Sometimes Gems Are Gents

I knew back in February of this godforsaken year when I watched David Byrne and his crew perform on SNL that I wanted more of it.

It wasn’t until I saw another blogger posting about it then read the Esquire interview with Byrne and Spike Lee and realized they collaborated to bring Byrne’s Broadway show “American Utopia” show to the masses via HBO, that I was able to actually get more of it.

I watched it at home with Rabbie and I was enthralled. I hope you all have the good sense to watch it yourselves. I’m not going to even attempt to explain what it was all about, mainly because I know I’d miss something important.

But I will say this: David Byrne’s “American Utopia” is weird. In the very best of ways. There’s of course the music, which is so jubilant. There is the oddly intriguing interpretive dance. There are the wonderfully talented, multi-cultural musicians and dancers backing it all up. There is much food for thought. It’s cerebral. But it’s not so cerebral that it’d be over anyone’s heads if that makes sense. Ultimately, it’s a celebration of humanity and community.

This phenomenally cool show along with the uplifting and worthy-of-your-time website David heads up, is part of what makes him a “Gem” to me. A national fucking treasure.

Within the website, https://reasonstobecheerful.world/, you will find well-written, thoughtful, fascinating, and inspiring articles. It’s essentially the good news we all need these days. I’ve known of this website for probably a year now, but hadn’t kept up with it. I allowed myself to instead pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, MSNBC, and NPR to keep current on things. That is going to change, as I’m re-committing myself to reading an article or two daily on this website.

Because of David Byrne, I’m also doubling down on focusing on the positive. The good stuff that will expand my understanding of things and leave me feeling more hopeful. While by nature I am an optimist, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a bit of work to maintain that optimistic outlook, especially with the plethora of bad news and bad attitudes lurking in every corner of the internet and in the news.

I think we need more people in the world like David Byrne. The people who think outside the box. The intelligently quirky ones. The question askers. The forward thinking folks who have a sense of genuine curiousity about the world and the people who inhabit it. The creative problem solvers who generously share their talents and insights to make the world a better place for all of us.

Let me leave you with what is probably my favorite Talking Heads tune.

***Header image art by none other than Mr. Byrne himself courtesy of http://www.davidbyrneart.com/?portfolio=love

What Can We Agree On?

The seed that sparked this post was a comment made recently on one of my blog posts. In that post, I simply stated “Yay-Biden/Harris won”. Now those aren’t fighting words, are they? Yet, another blogger chose to tell me they were glad that I expressed this. Because then they could “block” me.

I found her comment humorous and ridiculous. When I read a blog post and don’t agree with what the blogger is saying, I tend to keep it to myself. Choose in silence to not follow them. It was the first time I can recall that anyone on the interwebs stated they would not follow me because of my political persuasion.

Of course, my response to this blogger was not helpful at all. I said “You do you, Sweetheart!”. That was admittedly snarky of me and later made me feel like a jerk.

But here’s the thing: aren’t we all in this together? Aren’t we all Americans? Aren’t there some basic things we can all agree on?

The extremism is really pissing me off these days.

Yes, I am very pleased that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be our next President and Vice President. I think they are earnest and are going to try their best to unite us and enact policies to put us all on a better path. I’m not going to take that back.

But there are almost half of us that don’t agree with that, which of course is their right. But is it helpful that a percentage of those folks are digging in their heels and refusing to acknowledge that Trump really truly lost this election? Doesn’t it make sense for them to put down their weapons, so to speak, and acknowledge reality?

I sure think it does. I’m hoping that they agree with that before long. It’s in everyone’s best interest, regardless of what particular political party they are aligned with.

For those of us on the other side, many of whom were often spouting re: Trump “well he’s not my President” after he was elected in 2016, they need to stop gloating. It is not helpful. While I was unhappy when he got elected, I didn’t go around saying “well, he’s not my President”, because I did not think it was helpful in any way. And it wasn’t the reality.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this blog is not a political one. It is however, my blog. And since I see my blog as being running commentary of life from my perspective in the here and now, it would not feel right for me to keep my politics completely off the table.

Ultimately, I want to be helpful here. I want to engage with others and lift them up. I want to be radically hospitable and open minded within this blog and in my real day to day life.

So, that leads me to this final question: what do you think we can all, as Americans, agree upon?

I think answering this question is a way to start healing. To start coming together. We have to start somewhere.

I will go first with: I think we can all agree that (more) change is coming in American society, whether we welcome it or not. We are all going to have to accept that. We’re going to have to get off our high horses for the greater good.

The Brightest Gem

Her name is Kelly. Or, as my Dad often called her “Kel-Kel Poo Poo”. She is my one and only big (biological) sister.

I’ve no idea where Dad got the idea to call her this. I think it’ll forever remain a mystery, as Dad unfortunately passed a few years ago. For the record, he often called me “Rhoda-Joda”. I think the silly names he came up with for all of us was one of his many ways of expressing his love for us.

Kelly and I, ready to partake in the Bloody Mary bar to celebrate our Dad’s second birthday in the afterlife. Babe loved a good Bloody Mary with a “snit” of beer to chase it down.

I don’t know where I’d be without Kelly. She is 8 1/2 years older than me (hard to believe that seeing the picture of us here, right?). She was continuously looking out for me and supporting me as I grew up. I was in awe of her as a kid and still am.

She was the one who regularly sent me care packages when I was away at college. They were filled with random, fun things, like candy, holiday window clings, note pads and other doo-dads. It always made me feel so special, so loved, when I opened them up. I doubt that I ever properly thanked her for them at the time.

I started writing this post on her birthday, November 10. Of course she was working that day. The woman is a work horse and always puts others before herself. I’ll be so happy for her, in another year or so, when she’s able to retire and get much-deserved time to relax and pursue all of those things that give her so much joy, like spending time with her beautiful twin grandsons and traveling with her husband.

It could be said that I owe Kelly my life. I remember hearing stories from when she was about 11 and had to baby-sit me sometimes. She dreaded those times, because our brother, who was just shy of 2 years older than her and had ADHD, delighted in teasing me to the point of tears. She was the one who calmed this bawling and sweaty toddler down during those times.

Kelly is the big sister every little sister wishes they had. She let me tag along with her and her girlfriends when she was in high school. She appointed me “junior” bridesmaid when she got married in 1979. She let me spend weekends with her and her new husband (and eventual baby boys) during the summers. At the time, they lived across from a small resort where we would rent paddle boats and cruise around little Lax Lake. She worked as a waitress back then, and sometimes I would get to hang out at the restaurant with her and her funny friend and co-worker Karen. So many sweet memories.

As she lived in closer proximity to them, Kelly was the sibling who took on the role of managing our parents lives as they got older. She was our family’s rock as Bonnie and Babe’s health deteriorated and for that I owe her a debt of gratitude.

Kelly is also my rock. She’s the first one I call when I have news to share, whether it’s good or bad. It’s fair to say she is the brightest Gem in my life.

For any of you that are blessed to have a “Gem” of a sister like I do, you understand that all I’ve expressed in this post honoring her merely scratches the surface. I’m grateful for Kelly and for the opportunity to have this blog where I can express that gratitude.

About Bangs

So this is my attempt to produce a blog post after having written very little in the last week.

There’s lots of reasons I haven’t been engaged with blogging. 1) I broke my left foot last week and am adjusting to this unexpected temporary reality 2) the election (Yay Biden-Harris won!).

Photographic evidence

But I don’t want to focus on all that right now.

I feel like I have a lot to say on the subject of bangs and it would no doubt be of great interest to all of my followers.

I’m a fan of them. For myself. I have little tolerance for when they start invading my field of vision, and staying at home due to Covid-19 made me realize that I can trim them myself without completely destroying my “look”.

Rocking my Toni Tenille inspired bangs in 5th grade

Not like I have a “signature look”, mind you. I guess I just surprised myself because I always assumed if I tried trimming them myself, they’d end up way too short. To avoid coming across as idiotic, I’d have to make up some lie about how it happened, like I got too close to my glue gun while crafting and had no choice but to chop them off super short. And I am a terrible liar, so that would have not gone well for me at all.

When my bangs get too long and I’ve had a more physical kind of day that results in semi-profuse sweating on my brow, they do something really odd. They curl up towards the ceiling. Like straight up. Like the only way I can rectify the situation is to completely wet and then blow dry my hair. Something I only care to do once a day, thankyouverymuch.

Years ago, I found a website that allowed me to put a head shot of myself up and choose all sorts of different hairstyles to see how they would look on my face. It surprised me how many of the ones that didn’t involve bangs actually looked pretty darn good on me. Of course that website didn’t account for the type of hair one has, which was a major downside. It didn’t factor in my hair being relatively thin and naturally wavy. So how the do’s with no bangs would look in real life on me would most certainly not be flattering.

Despite my hairdresser and both my kids (all bang-less individuals) telling me that I most certainly could pull off the “no bang” look, I don’t think I have the wherewithal to allow my bangs to grow out. They would be in my eyeballs as they grew. I’d be forced to use bobby pins to hold them back, which would look quite strange. Or I’d be doing that thing where I’m alternating blowing air upwards out of the side of my mouth so I can get the hair out of my way and see what’s in front of me and swiping my fingers over my forehead to brush those growing bangs out of my line of vision.

So I think for the rest of my life I’ll be wearing bangs.

You Ought To Know About This Gem

Okay, so here’s the deal: I am anxious as hell right now about what the outcome will be of the Presidential election happening in approximately 48 hours from now.

It’s good that I’ve been busier at work lately, having increased my hours. It was good for my soul to participate in a “Trunk or Treat” event (where everyone wore masks and gloves) yesterday afternoon. Seeing all the kiddos in their costumes really lifted my spirits. Distractions for me right now are a blessing.

Today I am determined to remain positive and share something positive with you all. Maybe it’ll give you some hope for our collective future as it did for me.

I caught this story on the news earlier this week about a 14 year old Indian American girl from Frisco, Texas who just won 3M’s “America’s Top Young Scientist” prize for discovering a key for a possible treatment for Covid-19.

Now, I don’t know what you were doing at 14, but I know I was not winning any contests based on my intelligence. The only “contest” I was trying to win at that time was “girl all the boys want to date”.

This brilliant young woman’s name is Anika Chebrolu and I think she is amazing. She gives me hope for the future. Her parents must be so very proud.

It astounds me that at 14, she has such a massive intellect and she is so well-spoken. So composed and mature beyond her years. She is an example of the kind of “Gem” that we ought to pay attention to and support.

I read a few articles about her and this is the one I found most informative. I’m certain this “Gem” is going places in the scientific world!

***Amazingly perfect header photo courtesy of https://seattleawis.org/awis-events/gems/

After November 3rd 2020

I refer to former Vice President Biden as “The Bridge” because that is how I see him.

Assuming he wins the election, it doesn’t seem likely he will have two terms as POTUS to me, given his age. But I think of him as “The Bridge” that will get us from the shitty place we are in as a country to a better place. He’s going to get the ball rolling, with the help of Kamala and all the other smart and capable people he will put in his cabinet.

Then after his 4 year term is done, the torch will be passed to someone who will continue Joe’s legacy.

Here’s what I’m hoping to see once (fingers and toes crossed) Joe and Kamala are in their new jobs:

Everyone gets masks, hand sanitizer, easy access to free and reliable Covid-19 test kits, a vaccine, and clear health education and guidance (supported by the administration) from the world’s top health experts. Like…Yay Science!

So that’s quite obviously Job #1.

Then we will see them utilize our DNA scientists. To use DNA kits on each one of those over 500 immigrant kids living in detention centers. Get a whole team of smart IT folks to work collaboratively on matching them with the DNA of their relatives. Engage mental health professionals and social workers to be the supports that are needed to reunite the families and guide them through getting set up as a family unit together, whether it be in the U.S. or their home country. Wherever the families choose to begin their lives together anew is where they will land.

They will get “BidenCare” up and running. They will make sure that health insurance does not have to be tied to employment. But if you have health insurance via your employment and you’re happy with your plan and your health care providers, you can keep it. Additionally, our new administration will make sure our out of pocket costs for medical care (including mental health and those complementary services like chiropractic care) are as low as they can possibly be. Whether we keep our health insurance through our employment or we choose the public option.

The new administration will incentivize Americans to pay more attention to climate change. To accept it as fact. To make it easier to recycle, standardizing the process across the whole country. It will bring jobs, man! As will switching to solar energy!

The Biden/Harris administration will address racial injustice and reform how we do policing in this nation. Cops will be partnered w/social work and/or mental health professionals for the majority of calls. President Biden will install a “pit bull” as AG to oversee this.

These are the things I pray for on the daily. You can call me a bleeding heart liberal, a snowflake, whatever. That is not going to stop me from hoping and praying for a better future for all Americans.

****Header image courtesy of https://fourseasons.teleioscn.org/blog/good-grief-1-0-1-0-0-1-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Going Straight to Gems

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you may recall me mentioning the term “Gems”. I believe I at least alluded to my plan for writing about “Gems” on an ongoing, regular basis in a recent post.

The reason I’m bringing it up now is because I am ready to start this series.

One small thing that you ought to know about this new endeavor of mine is that I have decided to go against what I said here about who “Gems” are to me. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized there is no good reason to exclude those of the male persuasion from being a “Gem” that I write about in this little blog.

I mean, not everything I think, say or feel (or publish) is written in stone. I’m subject to change (fyi-the original title for this blog). Isn’t that a good thing?

So here I go. I’m going to start with a recent “Gem” story. Diving in here.

I have been a fan of the online shopping site Etsy for several years now. I love the act of thoughtfully purchasing a handmade gift for those I love. Because unfortunately, unlike Bonnie and Rabbie (both Gems to me), I possess little talent with arts and crafts. And I love to support small businesses and artists.

I started shopping for gifts on Etsy back when I lived in Wisconsin, in our “Grandma house” on 30th St.

Fast forward to now. Living in Colorado. Still ordering on Etsy when the moment strikes. So I’ve got some wall space that needed to be filled in my living room. I found the perfect item on Etsy and placed the order.

A couple of weeks passed and I thought to myself “it should be here by now”. Then I got a call from Linda, the realtor who sold us our house on 30th St., then 2 years later sold that house for us to a nice divorced woman named Kathy.

Linda said that Kathy called because she received a large package via Fed Ex for me. Kathy wanted to know our phone number so she could contact us and figure out how to get the package to us in Colorado.

Oh my! I was embarrassed, as it was then I realized that in my excitement about obtaining this particular wall art, I apparently failed to notice that the address box checked for shipping was the one on 30th St. and not the one here in Colorado (that address on my Etsy account has since been deleted). Of course I told Linda to please give my number to Kathy and we’ll work it out from there.

So Kathy calls me. She noted it was a big package and it came from Lithuania! I told her that I loved shopping on Etsy for handmade items like this and apologized for my screw-up. She said she spoke to Fed Ex and they told her the easiest thing to do is just have them ship it to me. I told her she could go ahead and just return it to sender and I’d re-order it. I didn’t want her to go through any hassle.

Her response? She said it was no big deal, she was going somewhere that Friday and she would pass by Fed Ex so she would just send the package to me. I thanked her profusely and told her that I’d reimburse her the cost.

So how nice is this lady? She’s a gem, that is what she is. In our conversation, we talked about how much we both loved that little old house. She updated me on the next door neighbors, who now have a baby who is just starting to walk. She said she regularly sees the neighbors who lived across the street, Larry and Helen, at the assisted living facility where she works. They sold their cute little house, where they lived for 35 years and raised their 5 kids, shortly after we sold ours and moved out to Colorado. Kathy also shared that after seeing *now* her house her friends declared that the large unfinished basement was the perfect party spot. She said every year now she hosts a Euchre tournament there on New Year’s Eve.

I loved hearing all of this. I love knowing how much she loves and appreciates that sweet little house that was once ours.

About a week after our last conversation, I received my lovely new handmade wall art and put it up above our living room couch. I sent Kathy a check to reimburse the $19 she paid to have it sent to me. I included a gift card to Olive Garden that I had won in a silent auction last year. It was the least I could do.

Me, perched on my couch this weekend under my lovely new Etsy wall art

Dear Undecided And Non-Voting Americans

I know some of you personally. That is why I’m writing this letter. Because I care about you. I want good things for you. Sometimes it helps to hear the advice of someone in your life that you didn’t know you needed to hear. The unsolicited variety.

I’m going to cut to the chase here. You need to vote in this election. I know you say you’re not “political”. You tell me that you’re confused. Your ears and eyes pick up bits and pieces of what the candidates are doing and saying but your life so busy you haven’t had time to process it all. You brain is full of other things that feel more important to you. Your kids. Your job (or lack thereof). Your spouse. Trying to follow all the Covid-19 restrictions and maybe worrying about the health of those who are not.

You’re doing the best you can to get through each day. You’ve got a good heart. And you are smart. And you can think for yourself.

But. The man who is elected President in another couple of weeks is going to impact your life. Whether you like it or not.

I know you care about education, for example. You want your kids and your friends kids, and your kids friends and all the kids you don’t even know to have access to a great education.

I also know you care about health care. That’s the number 1 concern in American voters minds right now. You may have have health insurance. Maybe you don’t. If you do, you might think you’re paying too much for your premiums. Or you think your prescriptions or your co-pays are too high. Or maybe, God forbid, you or a loved one were surprised by an astronomically high medical bill because insurance only paid so much. And you have no idea how you’re going to pay that bill. Or you don’t have health insurance at all. So you are not getting the routine care you need. So you have to get yourself to an emergency room and hope it isn’t too late to get the care you need to get better.

I also know you, like the rest of us, want our country’s leaders to do all they can to combat Covid-19. You’re troubled by seeing the cases and the deaths from this monster climb each day. You want to get back to a time where masks are not required everywhere you go. You want this to be dealt with so you and your loved ones can get back to “normal”. You’re just plain sick and tired of it all.

I suspect you also care about our climate. You may not see yourself as educated in scientific matters but maybe you don’t like seeing news coverage of whales dead on the beach from pollution in our waters. You don’t like that this summer was oppressively hot where you live. You don’t think it’s right that big companies pollute our waters to the point where in some places in this country the water is not safe to drink.

I am certain that you worry about how Americans are treating each other these days too. The hatred, the violence, the injustices. The self-righteousness that gets spewed on the daily by extremists on both sides of the political aisle. Everyone thinks they are right but none of us actually are. Everyone seems to be distracted by their own opinions.

I urge each of you to give some serious thought to what you see around you and in this country as a whole and decide what it is you think ought to change for the better. Maybe it’s the topics I mentioned already: education, health care, climate change, violence. Or maybe it’s that and more.

Give yourself the courtesy of thinking about which Presidential candidate is more likely to bring about the changes you believe need to happen going forward. Or the one who you believe will attempt to do so to the best of their ability.

Make a plan. If you’re lucky like I am and live in a state where your ballot is mailed to you, sit down and fill that thing out. Bring it to your nearest drop off place. If you don’t, find out where your nearest polling place is and if and when they are open for early voting. Or look at your calendar and think through what 11/3/20 will look like. When can you get there to vote? After work, before work? Or maybe in the middle of the day, because you are unemployed because of Covid-19?

Then follow through. Don’t let yourself be that person who didn’t exercise their right as an American to vote.

Because I know that you know America is messed up right now. And I hope that you also know, as I do, that the only way to expect anything to change at this point is to vote.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.pine.edu/current-students/student-life/student-senate/get-out-the-vote

Alphabet Soup Challenge: O is for Optimism

Here begins the final entry of my Alphabet Soup Challenge.

There are lots of words that start with the letter “O” that I could have chosen to write about. Like “options”, “objectives”, “opportunities”, “openings”. Which, ironically, all have an optimistic bent-don’t you think?

But this is “Pollyanna’s Path”, right? I chose that title for my blog when I started it about 4 years ago for a reason. Because I am an optimist. And my optimism is what I’ve always aimed to share in this space.

Hey, I’m still publishing posts on this blog despite not having as many followers as oodles of other bloggers, right? I continue in part because I am optimistic that my blogging will get better. I also remain optimistic that this blogging habit will become more interesting with time-with how and what I’m writing and with whom I’m connecting via this platform.

So, for all of us who continue to blog; doesn’t it stand to reason that we are all optimists?

As Noam Chomsky once said: optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.

Doesn’t that make a ton of sense?

It’s important for me that you understand that my optimism is not foolish. I do not shield my eyes and ears from the harsh realities of this world: a warming climate, white nationalists acting upon their (based on fear) hate of the “other” in violent ways, immigrant children held for prolonged periods of time in detention centers, incompetent leadership in the White House. These things and more are happening in real time and it makes me sick; though mostly it makes me angry.

But here’s the thing: I think by and large we Americans are smart. There has been much we have overcome and changed for the better since the establishment of this country. We are problem solvers. My fellow optimists surely see it this way too.

But we have farther to go. We just have to be willing to step it up, imagine something better, and work towards creating that reality.

Because the glass for me is always half full. Key word there is “half”. We need to work collectively to fill that “glass” up to the brim with the good stuff that we all can benefit from: cleaner air, a robust education system, compassionate and smart policing among other things. We must do better and I believe we can and that we will.

Because, as Jennifer Mara Gumer puts it in this article (which I highly encourage you to read), optimism is “the truly rational viewpoint”.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.magiccrate.in/blog/parenting-tips-toddler/teach-child-optimism/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: X Factor Classic Rock From a Gen X Perspective

I think of the term “X Factor” as being the “special sauce”. An indescribable quality in something or someone that you can’t quite put your finger on. Something or someone that is original and delightful. Something or someone who is memorable to you. Something or someone who is super freaking cool.

Last week I was listening to one of my favorite channels on Sirius XM, Classic Rewind, when DJ Kristine Stone announced in her smooth-as-silk voice the “My Perfect 10” challenge. She explained that subscribers were invited to email them their “perfect 10” tunes from the classic rock “cassette era”.

Side note: do you remember those? Those pieces of cheap plastic you could pop into that old cassette player to listen to your favorite tunes? Or maybe you were like me as a Gen X’r who would put a blank cassette in, position it next to your boom box, and tape your favorite songs that played between all those commercials on your local (it was all local in those days, kids) rock station.

Anyway, the idea with Classic Rewind’s “Perfect 10” challenge is that provided you emailed your list to them, you could potentially hear your specially crafted “perfect 10” tunes on the channel on, you guessed it, 10/10.

My first thought upon hearing this was that this was an idea I can get behind. Listening to rock songs during the cassette era (mid-70’s through the 80’s) was what led me to become such an enthusiastic rock and roll fan.

What qualifies these songs as having the “X-Factor” for me is that for every single one of them, I pause my thoughts, crank up the radio and sing along. Until the bitter end. I marinate in these songs. Feel their beats pulsing through my veins. Jam out in my truck to them. Dance around my living room to them.

So here’s my “Perfect 10 X -Factor” classic rock song list:

  1. The Load Out/Stay by Jackson Browne
  2. Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by Meatloaf
  3. You’re my Best Friend by Queen
  4. Turn the Page by Bob Seger
  5. Young Americans by David Bowie
  6. Life’s Been Good by Joe Walsh
  7. All My Love by Led Zeppelin
  8. Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
  9. Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings
  10. Carry on Wayward Son by Kansas.

I realize that despite being a teenager in the 80’s, all but one of these songs (Free Fallin’) was produced in the 70’s. I suspect that’s on account of being a Gen X’r who adored her older brother and sister (one graduated high school in ’75 and the other in ’77) and their taste in the music of the day. Perhaps I would have been better off compiling a “Perfect 10 X Factor” list of songs from the Classic Vinyl (another one of my favorite Sirius XM channels)?

But I’ve always been one who tries to stay in the current. I am a big fan of newer and younger musical artists, ones who have put out music during my adult life. Like Jack White.

I think he is absolutely amazing. He commands the stage. He is such a gifted guitar player and performer. As an appreciator of well done rock and roll and cool characters, allow me to share the epic performances by this cool cat, performed last Saturday night on SNL:

So, what musical artists and/or songs possess that “X Factor” according to you?

***Header image courtesy of https://www.quotemaster.org/Rock+And+Roll

Tales from an optimist transplanted from Wisconsin to Colorado. Finding silver linings, lifting others up, sharing positively good stuff

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