Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tie it Together...

I realized that I forgot to tell you a "funny" story about the cruise in yesterday's blog. And then when I was thinking about it I realized it actually kind of ties Friday's blog and yesterday's blog together.

So in Skagway when we were headed for the sled dog tour we took a little tour bus to get to the camp. Brent and I were sitting waiting to go when this big guy got on the bus. He had a toddler and was trying to figure out where to put the stroller. There was a guy sitting behind us who had an empty seat next to him and the guy put the stroller there. The guy said, "Excuse me, that seat is taken. I'm waiting for someone."

Big guy says, "Yeah, it's taken by the stroller."

Guy behind us quietly says, "No, really, it's taken."

Big guy grabs the diaper bag from his wife and puts it with the stroller. "Yep, these are your best friends now."

Guy behind us, sounding really distraught, "It's taken..."

Big guy starts to walk back to his seat.

Mouthy woman sitting next to Brent, "No seriously, he says that seat is taken."

Guy behind us, "Oh no! Sorry! We're together, it's okay!"

Everyone laughs. Seems like Big Guy, Wife, Baby, Old Couple next to us and guy behind us are all one family. Oh whoops! We joked about it a bit and I told him he did a very convincing distraught. (I didn't mention Big Guy did a really convincing bully as well; my guess is that's the normal family dynamic, brother-in-law picks on wife's little brother).

Guy behind us, "Thank you though."

When we were done with the tour and headed back down to the ship he was sitting across the aisle from us and said, "Can you believe my friend never showed up?" Patting the stroller and bag next to him again.

"How rude." I replied.

Then he said, "But, really, thank you though. I think the world needs more defenders."

"You were very convincing and should pick up your Emmy when we get back to the ship. I thought you really were upset. I would be the beacon of hope person on the What Would You Do show with John Quinones. I'm not the sit quietly by type."

So now I will feature in that family's vacation story for ever. Remember the crazy lady on the bus who was going to take out Bubba? She was not having it at all. Crazy...

And this is where it ties to Friday's blog. As much as I would like to step back out quietly. To ignore the world as it goes on around me, I'm just not built that way. I am the one who's going to say, "Hey, wait, I don't think that's right." I am the one who ignores the size difference between me and the bully and only hears the sadness in the bullied's voice. If I can do something I will. Even if it's just to say, "No, that's not right."

So as much as I am tired of shouting in to the wind at times, it's not like I can help but do it. It is who I am.

I am the crazy lady on the bus.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Okay, so we've been home a week and I've had time to think about the whole experience and decide what I really thought about the cruise.

First off, for those of you that didn't know, I have wanted to take and Alaskan cruise for as long as I can remember. It's been one of the those big list items. I've been working on checking those off recently and this was a major one. But I was still worried about it. The newly gained seasick issue from the past couple years was the biggest worry. And the fact that it's still been random. Not on the sunset cruise, not on the Christmas ship cruise, not on one snorkeling trip but on another. And when it hits it's BAD. I wouldn't wish it on pretty much anyone.

So yeah, I was worried. And I was worried enough that I decided not to do any small boat site seeing while we were on the cruise just in case. I figured if the big ship didn't make me nauseated that was great, I shouldn't push it with a little boat then back on the big ship. So I made allowances. And I also got a lot of advice from my friends who cruise as to where my room should be and what to bring along just in case I got queasy.

It ended up just fine. Not even a hint of seasickness. We could feel the ship rocking at different points but it wasn't much. So that was great.

Now it could be that to get a ship this size rocking enough to make me sick it would have to be bad weather, like REALLY bad weather. But I'll take it. And there were a lot of people on board sporting the little dots behind their ears and one woman we saw in one of the shops on board who was already sick and we hadn't even left port in Seattle yet. Eek!

So anyway, the first hurdle was an easy one. No seasickness. Calm enough that if I had known ahead of time we would have done a small boat tour or two. Oh well! Lessons!

The next piece we were worried about was the actual time at sea. As many of you who have followed my vacations in the past know, I'm not really good about just sitting still. If I am visiting someplace I might not get back to I want to see as much as I can and do as much as I can so I schedule tours, hikes, dives, drives, restaurants...I fill our days. I've gotten a little better about scheduling open blocks of time to do whatever as well, but it's not my preference. If you are a lay by the pool kind of vacationer I would drive you nuts. So we were worried.

And we were a little right to worry. I did get a little bored on the first at sea day. I drug Brent to a few lectures and the glass show and we watched a live stream of the Gold Cup game but I was pretty antsy by the end of the day. It just wasn't very vacationy to me to sit still and do nothing. Even with a great view off of our balcony. I tried not to make Brent crazy. I really did.

And I figured it out a bit by our last day out to sea. I packed a bag, went to my favorite spot on the ship and spent the day looking for wildlife and reading and taking pictures and counting down the hours until we pulled in to Victoria.

The ports of call were interesting though I would choose different tours now. The snorkeling in Ketchikan I would not change. Even though it wasn't the best snorkeling ever as far as visibility goes, it was a great experience. And I love being able to say I went snorkeling in Alaska.
Like aliens underwater..

The wet suits really worked, but it was SO difficult to get on I almost gave up. There was a point in the dressing room where I was trying to get the suit over my hips and butt that I thought, I'm going to have to go out and tell Brent to go ahead without me because my 10 pounds of mud will not fit in this 5 pound sack...It was a little disheartening for sure. But then I got it to move an inch and had help with the zipper to get my boobs contained and I was ready! I walked like a Barbie with non-bending joints, but I was in! And like I said, it really did the trick. We've been colder snorkeling in Hawaii for sure. So if you like to snorkel I recommend this, just for the experience if nothing else.

Ketchikan was also the closest we got to bears on the trip. I had really been hoping to see bears in the wild. I had my binoculars trained on the waterfalls and coast line just waiting for a bear sighting the whole trip...and nothing. But we did see this:
These headless fish were bear snacks. We didn't know it when I was down there taking pictures. We were trying to figure out why in the world someone would take the fish heads and leave the rest. Our hiking guide in Juneau told us that the fish are so plentiful that the bears get a little wasteful. They like the brains and the eggs the best so they will eat those and leave the rest. These were really fresh so we missed seeing a bear by probably too close for what I really wanted my bear encounter to be. So maybe a good thing we didn't see any bears.

In Juneau the tour we took was a different one than what I thought I was getting. I thought we were actually hiking to Mendenhall Glacier and would be able to walk out on the glacier. Going back and re-reading the description of the hike I can see where it was wasn't, and also see that it was pretty closely phrased to sure seem like it was. Now, don't get me wrong, it was a gorgeous hike and it was a challenging hike, which was a nice counter to the 24 hour access to food, but it wasn't exactly what I thought I was in for. It's very hard to be upset with views like this, though:
Mendenhall Glacier 

The lady in the ice...

Mendenhall Lake

But I do know if I want to hike on the glacier or the ice fields I will need to take a helicopter tour next time. But then it's only about 15 minutes on the glacier itself. So there are trade offs for sure.

Now, I should back up. Before we pulled in to Juneau we went through the Endicott Arm and saw the Dawes Glacier. It was an early morning, we were up and in the Sky Lounge planted in front of my favorite window before 5 AM. And the whole morning was exactly what I had pictured in my head when I dreamed of taking an Alaskan cruise. It was awe inspiring. 

 Dawes Glacier

A hanging glacier. That means it's not attached directly to a body of water. Our naturalist also said this one didn't have a name so we were free to name it after ourselves. Mastenbrook Glacier sounds pretty impressive right?

I loved watching the ice in the water as well.

Harbour seals, humpback whales, ice flows, birds, glaciers, water falls, it was all just gorgeous. A wonderful morning. 

So on to Skagway...

Everyone says to ride the train in Skagway. But everyone didn't tell me that until after I had already booked our outing so we didn't. Next time. We went and saw the sled dogs. It was, again, not exactly what I had expected. Instead of a small sledge with some sort of wheels that would mimic a winter sledge we were in this giant holds six people and the musher contraption. I thought we would actually work with the sled dogs a little and learn a bit about how to be a musher. It was much more touristy than that. Though these were really sled dogs teams who do work during the winter. But it wasn't exactly what I had been thinking. I was a little disappointed but only a little. I mean I got to spend time with these guys and give them ear scratches:

And the tour ends with this:

So you know, how could you be disappointed really?

Victoria was our last stop and we originally weren't going to do any tours because we were going to have just been there. But when sabbatical got moved our trip to Victoria got pushed as well so we did a short two hour overview tour. Victoria is gorgeous and I'm looking forward to going back and actually exploring it a bit. The tour? Not so great. But again, it was a last minute add and we were probably just expecting too much. We've done tours of other cities before that were in smaller vehicles with more stops and more information about the town and I think that's what we were expecting. This was a giant bus and a driver who talked a lot and said very little. 

But it is gorgeous and we are looking forward to going back. We also checked housing prices while we were reason...

Let's see, what else? We played a fun game called "who bought the drink package?" I swear there were people that were trying to make sure they got their money's worth on that before we ever left Seattle. Crazy. The food was okay. Not bad, not good, just okay. But it was plentiful. You could always find something to eat if you wanted to. And I think that a lot of cruise weight gain for people is that if you get bored you can go get something to eat. I know we did it a couple of times. "Let's grab a snack." The room was decent. Not terribly small and the bathroom was actually much bigger than I thought it would be. Now, that doesn't mean it was big, just bigger than I thought it would be. The bed was not very comfortable and the pillows missed being pillow like, so that was a bummer. The shows were not for us. We came up with a new comedy level. Cruise ship funny. Not a comedian we would pay to see off the ship but he was cruise ship funny... That was the second guy. The first guy we didn't go see his second show. He wasn't even cruise ship funny.

The smaller musical groups were better than the big productions. They had a string duet that was lovely. And an acoustical guitar duo that was really nice. The "house band" was a decent bar band. But the big productions were not great. We saw one that was supposed to be about Mozart called Amade and it was...well...the best I could figure was it was written by a guy who had heard of Hamilton and thought if he put someone in a powdered wig and had them sing Katy Perry it would TOTALLY be the same thing...It wasn't.  I think if we had bought the drink package we might have liked it better, so really that's on us.
I wasn't sure what I thought of the overall experience when I got home. We liked the things we thought we would like (great scenery, easy transportation), we didn't like the things we didn't think we would like (boredom and crowds), so at least we know ourselves very well. The thing that has made me laugh is every night since we've come home I've dreamed about being on a ship so obviously my brain was still processing the trip.

I think we will cruise again. We don't care for the actual cruising part as much, though ironically, two of my favorite days were sailing days (Endicott Arm and sailing in to Victoria looking at TONS of wildlife). But being out to sea if there was nothing to look at would be super boring after a short while. The part that will bring us back is we did really like how easy it was to get places. We saw four cities without having to pack and re-pack. We were able to relax during the transit instead of deal with TSA and small airplane seats and tiny bathrooms. So I think we will do it again. I think we will upgrade to the level where you have access to other restaurants and areas of the ship so we can avoid some of the crowds and maybe get a more comfortable bed. And we will be sticking to cruises with lots of ports of call. It gives an overview of an area and if you want to go back and spend a week someplace you could on your next vacation. I even think we will cruise to Alaska again someday. The next time we will go farther north and see more glaciers and bears dammit...we will see some bears!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Blinded by the Light...

He was trying to sleep in but it was too bright. The light kept flashing in his face. He opened his eye just a crack and saw her. She was standing by the window very slowly opening the blinds. She saw him looking at her and her face broke open in to a wide grin. "Oh! You're awake!"


She gave him her best cheesy grin and bounded over to the bed jumping on the mattress next to him. "Would you believe I was closing the blinds?"


"Would you believe I was just standing next to the window minding my own business?"


"Would you believe I have been awake for HOURS waiting for you to wake up and couldn't take it anymore?"


"Well it seemed like hours. Let's go with hours for sure."

He laughed, "Okay, hours."

"If we get cleaned up and then go to breakfast we will be ready right when they open."

"When who opens?"

"You know who!"

"Oh, were you planning on doing that today? I thought maybe we would..." WHAP! The pillow hit his face before he could finish. "Oh really? Is that how we are going to play this?"

He sat up and grabbed a pillow of his own and the fight was on. The pillow fight turned in to a wrestling match which then turned in to ... well they were a little later getting out of bed than her original plan. 


"That one! Oh can we see that one?"

The shelter attendant smiled and handed her the smallest puppy in the pen. The attendant knew that they were going home with a dog today. This was no "just looking" trip. So she would gladly hand them puppies for as long as it took.

"Hey, hon?"

She turned around still snuggling the little dog. "Yeah?"

"How about this guy?"

She handed the puppy back to the shelter worker and walked over to the kennel he was standing near. Inside was the goofiest looking dog she had ever seen. One ear up, one flopped over, a huge black spot on his face that covered one ear and eye and that was sort of in the shape of a certain Disney character. The dog was sitting quietly watching them both. Tail wagging and, she would swear this was true in any court of law, a huge grin on its face. 

"He's a year old, so not technically a puppy, but it says he's already house trained so that would be nice."

She looked at the dog sitting patiently and back at her husband. "You already love him don't you?"

"I'm pretty sure his name is Mickey."

She laughed and looked back one last time at the pen of little fuzz balls, oh well, maybe their next dog would be a puppy. "Wasn't Mickey your dog when you were growing up? Yes, I'm pretty sure that means you already love him." She caught the shelter worker's attention, "Can we take him out for a visit?"


They were in the park with Mickey playing fetch. He was the best at fetch. They were both pretty sure he played because he thought they loved it. He would sit and wait for the ball to be thrown, watching it sail through the sky and then as it started on its downward arc he would take off at full speed always getting there just in time to catch it out of the air. He was amazing! They had been so lucky to get this dog. They had been so lucky in so many things really.

Mickey came back with the ball and dropped it in his lap. "How about some lunch now?" He reached out and ruffled Mickey's ears then turned to unpack the picnic basket. She was sitting on the edge of the blanket watching him. "A man and his dog."

He smiled. "A man and his family."

She shifted the baby she was feeding to her other breast and sighed, "It's a beautiful day. It couldn't get any better."

He tilted his head to the sun and smiled. The light flashing in his face. 


They tried again. Prying open first one eye and then the other. The pen size flash light blinking in his eyes. "Pupils are nonreactive. Unable to revive heart or lung function. Time of death... 8:09 PM." The doctor stepped away from the hospital bed. "Have we found any next of kin information?"

One of the medical assistants stepped forward, "His wife died in child birth just last year and the baby didn't make it. He was all alone."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What are you trying to say??

The Universe is talking to me again. The problem is that it's telling me two different stories so I have no idea what it's really trying to say...

When we were on our cruise we bought the internet package for Brent. Any of you that are friends with him on Facebook can see from what he links that he reads a lot of newsy things. Those newsy things come daily as subscriptions. As we were going to spend our relaxation time reading we got the internet.

We figured out that I could use it as well, just not at the same time. So a few times a day I would log in and post a picture or my daily gratitude. I didn't stay on long. I was busy, it was keeping Brent off, I didn't really want to be. But I checked my notifications, anyone who was trying to talk to me I talked to. I posted those few things, I logged off. No big news. No reactions to big news.

The whole cruise was mostly politics free. There were a couple of over heard conversations but they all petered out as pretty much nobody wanted to spend their vacations thinking about politics.

I'm not going to lie. It was really nice.

In fact it was one of the first things Brent said when we got back. How nice it was to not hear about it all, all of the time.

We also spent time talking, as we do. And one of the things I talked about was feeling like I'm putting my energy in the wrong place. I'm investing too much of myself in things that I have no control over. For instance, politics. Like right now our Senate is getting ready to hold another vote on repealing our healthcare. I'm pretty sure this piece of legislation is going to pass. I also am more than sure that it's a bad idea. It's basically taking away a few sections of our current healthcare to make the ones that they keep worse. Premiums will jump. Planned parenthood will be defunded (understand that this is taking away medicare payments for health visits, abortion is already not funded). More people will be uninsured. It's a clusterfuck of massive proportions. And there is nothing I can do. I can't even FEEL like I'm doing something by calling my senators. My senators are already going to vote against it. But it will pass anyway. And I will watch as premiums rise and people are screwed.

And there is nothing I can do.

I've been reading my On This Day posts and lately they have been about the conventions from last year. It was through this time period that I was really starting to understand that a Trump presidency was more than a slight possibility. And I kept talking about it. And kept getting push back. From both sides. My conservative friends were convinced he wasn't what he was projecting. That he was just doing "a show" to get elected. My liberal friends were either sure he would lose, because come on, who would vote for him? Or, even more of them, wanted to argue about Bernie.

And I kept saying that anyone who was anti-Trump needed to vote in a way that made sure he wasn't elected.

And I kept getting told no.

Now here is where I think most of my friends were honest. I do think my conservative friends really thought that somehow he wasn't what he was presenting. Even though he was fully telling you who he was. They just couldn't believe it, so they didn't. Or they thought there was no way he was going to win, I mean, come on. That's crazy. Or if he did he would suddenly be hit with the enormity of the office and...umm...have a complete personality change?

My Bernie or Bust friends? Well I think they also honestly believed that Hillary would win. And then they could sit back and tsk tsk her but without any real consequence. "I am voting my conscience." "I will sleep well." Really? Because we are at the Or Bust part right now and A LOT of you are freaking out over what is happening. Though to be honest I don't see a lot of owning up. The Susan Sarandons, the Robert Reichs, the Shaun Kings of the world. The ones who gleefully promoted every piece of anti-Clinton news they could and then (in the case of the ones like Reich and King) couldn't understand why when they decided Clinton was okay their readers didn't. Sarandon held true to her or bust position the whole time. And still does. I roll my eyes.

Or bust sucks. And I just wish there was an admission that there was a mistake made somewhere. I get why there isn't. I really do. If you are a true believer and you make a mistake stepping back from it breaks a ledge you were standing on. All of a sudden you are on unstable footing. It takes too much to back off so you convince yourself that you are still on the moral high ground. You cannot possibly think that you did the wrong thing. You have invested too much in to the belief that you were right. If only people had listened...Bernie or Bust, man...

Healthcare. Military. LGBTQ rights. Russia. Chaos.

This is or bust.

Do I believe the Russians influenced the election? Oh yeah, I do. A lot of the or busters wanted to talk only about Wikileaks. Wikileaks worked with the Russians. So, yeah, they influenced the election. People voted 3rd party or didn't vote at all. Because her emails...because she was just as bad..because because because...And the whole time it was happening I was posting. PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THE BIG PICTURE...

But the Republicans voted for him hoping he wasn't actually who he was saying he was. The liberals didn't vote or voted for someone who had no chance of winning. And here we are...

And here I am again. Posting in to the wind. I cannot affect change. And I feel like I'm putting energy out there that isn't worth it. I told Brent yesterday that I was pretty sure I was done. I wanted to live on a cruise ship. Or a beach with bad internet. I wanted to pretend that none of this was happening and just move on.

Then last night I got a message from a friend who wanted me to know how grateful they were for my yelling in to the wind. That it meant something to them.

I know it's just one voice. But I also know there are a few others out there that listen when I yell. So maybe I am not wasting my energy. Maybe I am making a difference in my corner of the world. Maybe this was a message to keep plugging. Or maybe it wasn't. Because it really seemed like I should be going in the other direction. The Universe keeps talking, I just wish it would be a little more clear.

There's a whole other whine about writing to go with this theme, but this is more than enough waaaa for you to deal with.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Double Dipping...

"Did you seriously just double dip that chip?" Lori glared at Pete.

"I turned it. That's totally fine. It was a dip, bite, turn and dip."

"That is not fine, that's a double dip. That's not okay. Tell him that it's not okay." Lori made her case to the table.

"I think the turn and dip is probably okay, but I prefer the break off and dip in pieces." Carl shrugged.

"One dip per chip. You don't need every square inch of chip covered. One dip." Janine declared.

"Wait, so yours isn't a germ thing, it's a greed thing?" Lori asked.

"Not greed. Flavor balance. The chip needs to be appreciated for its chipness. To use it just as a dip delivery vehicle you might as well get a spoon."

" we have a no way from me, a you can but you should do it differently from Carl and a foodie choice from Janine. What do you say?"

Amy shrugged her shoulders, "Didn't Myth Busters do a whole episode on this? Like they measured the germ level and decided that double dipping, even without a turn, was no big deal?"

"Not the point. Just because Myth Busters could blow it up afterward doesn't mean it's not gross. Aren't you grossed out by it?"

Amy shook her head, "Nope. Why should I be? We've all had our fingers all over the chips and the salsa all night and I only know when I last washed my own hands, not the rest of you. And even if you did wash your hands right when you got here, like I did, you've touched each other, the table, your glasses, your jeans, your arms, pretty much all over the place. Then you grabbed a chip brushing against the chips next to it and then possibly turned the chip to get the best possible dipping surface and putting the finger touched side in the bowl of salsa."

"Okay, now I'm grossed out by the whole idea of finger foods." Lori pushed her plate away.

"Why? That's my point. You've been sharing germs with us all along. It's not gross. It's actually good for you. People who are too worried about germs and bust out the hand sanitizer constantly have weak immune systems. Look it up."

Carl started laughing, "This is about the toothbrush isn't it?"

Amy shot him a dirty look, "No. It's about the chips. And how some people are really weird about germs when they are already covered in them and are FINE."

"Yeah, it's totally about the toothbrush."

"Okay, what about the toothbrush? Now I'm curious." Janine broke in.

"Yeah, me too. Forget the chips, now I want to know about toothbrushes." Pete added.

"If it's gross I don't want to hear about it."  Lori shook her head.

"Fine! Thanks, Carl, I'll now share with the group."

"Oh, that was going to happen eventually anyway." Carl smiled.

"Whatever. Steve and I are not dating anymore."

"Wait? What? You just started getting serious, right? What happened?" Now Lori was interested.

"I asked if I could use his toothbrush and he freaked out."

"Oh gross. You did not!" Lori was back to being disgusted.

"It's not that big of a deal."

"Apparently it is." Pete nodded toward Lori whose face was tightly scrunched.

"Okay, just like you are grossed about the thought of germs when it doesn't really happen you are grossed out about using someone's toothbrush when we had just had our tongues in each other's mouths. He had literally touched my teeth with his tongue. Among other body parts. We had sweated on and in each other. We had kissed and licked and...well it was really good sex, okay?

 So we are pretty much wallowing in each other's DNA, I want to take a shower and freshen up before we go grab some dinner and to be POLITE I ask if he minds if I use his toothbrush and he FREAKED out about how disgusting it was. When I tried to explain that it wasn't he just kept, well making that face." Amy pointed at Lori.

Janine snort laughed.

"So anyway, it ended up being a big fight we aren't dating anymore."

"And..." Carl waved his hand at her.

"And I might have licked his toothbrush as I was leaving anyway."

The friends all laughed. Except Lori. Who just pushed the chips farther away.

Friday, July 7, 2017


So...yesterday I went hiking with my friend Marcy. Marcy is a unicorn. She's a Mormon Democrat. It's kind of amazing. I lived in Idaho for years and Intel recruits heavily from BYU and I'm pretty sure she's the only Mormon Democrat I've even known. That's actually why we are friends. She had a real lack of liberal friends and a mutual friend of ours (who is not liberal so couldn't fill the role) suggested she make friends with me. So I am her liberal friend. And because she's Mormon, she counts as one of my more conservative friends. Totally counts.

Anyway...while we were out hiking she asked me about some of my fictional stories and how they relate to my lack of religious belief. Because, as you all know, I often write stories where the undead aren't really gone. Souls, spirits, ghosts, they are all main characters in a lot of my writing. So she was curious, knowing that I don't consider myself religious, what I thought happened after we died.

I told her nothing. No, I didn't keep my opinion to myself, are you new here? I told her nothing happens. Nothing, that's what I believe probably happens. I always say probably. Or I believe. Because I don't know. Nobody knows. It's what keeps me on the agnostic side of the line though I lean pretty atheist.

But I believe that nothing happens. I believe that it's much like before you were born. You weren't here, then you were. When you die it's the same in reverse. You were here then you aren't. I have entertained ideas through my life that deal with energy and recreation and such things, but those are more due to my imagination and partly having a hard time dealing with letting go of the religious belief of more than anything else. I really do believe that this is life. Right now and right here, and after this we are done.

But I discovered yesterday that that is hard to explain. Or hard to explain in a way that is easy or acceptable. Religions give you something else. Some next. Either a new land, heaven, hell, reincarnation, limbo...something. But nothing? Nothing at all? Just absence of belief? That's a tough one to want to believe in. And I get that, I really do.

How do you tell a story about how to live your life that ends with...and then the lights went out. Click. Done.

People want more.

Most people.

Not me. I actually like the thought of nothing. I like that what I do right now matters not because of what might come next, or what reward I am getting or punishment I am avoiding but just because it matters right now. I like that my legacy is what I do and what I leave. The people I've touched in some way. My son and what he does with his life. My friends and any hearts or minds that I've changed in positive ways. Those are good things, but even the negative things. The people who would rather never hear my name again. I had an impact. I hope it's positive, even a negative interaction can lead to a positive direction.

But that is a really hard sell. There isn't a promise of pearly gates or streets of gold or a do-over in another body. There is no reward waiting for you. There is no carrot. There is also no stick. There is no purgatory waiting for you if you are so-so. There is no hell if you were a so and so. What are you living for if it's not for the end game? We've been conditioned to always be reaching for some prize. To be good because God is watching. To do the right thing because we will be judged. To say, I do the right thing because it's the right thing? I don't expect a reward. I don't expect to get anything out of it except that it was the right thing to do. It's not as easy to explain.

Another friend was surprised the other day that I don't believe in karma. Again, I will write about karma, and even say that karma will get someone. But one, that's not really how karma works, if you do believe in it. You can't really wish for someone to be "gotten" by karma. That would be bad for you karmically...ANYWAY...even though I use the figure of speech, I do not believe that there is some great cosmic justice system out there waiting to punish you if you do something wrong. Now I do believe that you get what put out there, which is karma in a broad sense. But the reason why I believe you get what you put out there is because there is nothing else that would make sense. If I'm an asshole people are going to tend to be assholes back to me. If I'm a decent person, the same is going to happen.

That's not really karma, or supernatural, or religious, or what ever. That's just human nature. But actual karma? Nope.

I can't believe in it because we've all see too many instances where really bad people have really great things happen for them. So where was karma again? Just taking the day off?

And I have the same issue with God. To believe in a supreme deity who has his own book (or books depending on your faith) I would need to believe in that book and his omnipotence. The book contradicts itself. The book has stories that do not make sense if you take them literally. And shows a pretty heartless God if you do. And, again, the world is currently full of really shitty things happening to people who don't deserve them. So you have to take all of that in stride and tuck it away in to the "God works in mysterious ways" folder and move along.

I find it easier to say no.

To believe that there is no broken karmic system.

To believe there is no indifferent to the suffering of starving and dying children God.

That when we are done the world will weigh what we left and how we are remembered but we are done. Lights out. Click.

But until that switch is flipped I am here. I am responsible for my actions. I am able to influence people. I am able to make the world around me a better place in small ways and sometimes in larger ways. It's all on me. Not for later. For now. Before the click. I would say that's better than nothing but...

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Wake and Bake...

When the Rock Star died the world mourned. It was a public mourning. And a private one. Because he wasn't just a rock star. He was a person. With friends and family who loved him. But because he was also the Rock Star he had adoring fans who loved him as well.

He had met the Rock Star at a wake, oddly enough. Not the normal place you would think to meet a rock star but this wake had been for the Rock Star's father, who was like a grandfather to his wife, so they met at the wake.

He had met the Rock Star's father a few months earlier. He hadn't even realized that he was the Rock Star's father at the time. He was just a friend of his wife. A close family friend. Like he said, like a grandfather actually. The Rock Star's father had been in hospice care in London. He and his wife were there on their honeymoon and she wanted to make sure they stopped in for a visit. She knew it wasn't the most romantic of things but the Rock Star's father had been too sick to make the wedding and it was important to her that they meet. That he had a chance to know her loved ones at least briefly.

He had been worth the visit. He regaled them with stories of his childhood. Of the way things used to be. Then he shared stories about his wife's childhood. Which gave him more insight in to how wonderful she was. She had always been wonderful to hear the Rock Star's father tell it. And his wife obviously adored him. As they said their goodbyes his wife and the Rock Star's father held hands and gazed in to each other's eyes for a very long time. Both of them knowing that this would probably be the last time they would see each other. He was very ill.

When he died a few months later and they made plans to go to the wake, they had just been to London and he wasn't sure how they were going to afford the trip back. But tickets arrived. First class tickets. "I knew it might be a stretch." The Rock Star had sent them. They were met at the airport by a driver who took them to a hotel they could not afford. The Rock Star again. His wife shrugged her shoulders, "Family comes when called, I would have been here anyway, but it's nice of him to make sure we could make it."

They dressed in black for the wake. But each with a purple scarf. It was the Rock Star's fathers favorite color. And she had packed something purple to wear each day of the weekend. Mourning colors should honor those being mourned was her belief.

A call came to the room announcing their ride. They arrived at The Rock Star's manor. You couldn't call it a house. Not really. It was grand. He tried not to stare open mouthed but he couldn't help it. The Rock Star greeted them at the door. "Thank you for coming. It's good to have family here." Then he turned to Eddie, "I am sorry I missed the wedding, I wish we could have met in better circumstances." He leaned in very close to the both of them and whispered, "Don't eat the brownies." His wife smiled and nodded. As the Rock Star walked away he turned to her, "I guess they are a bit special."

The wake was unlike anything he had ever seen. So many people were there. His wife spent most of her time with the Rock Star and his sisters. He spent most of his with an old photo album. The Rock Star's father had been a photographer in his day and he had told them stories of some of these photos. To see them now was incredible. He could hear his gravelly voice telling the stories about the people in them. There were shots of his wife as a child as well. Those he lingered over the longest. The Rock Star came and sat with him for a bit. "I am so sorry about the loss of your father. I only met him once, but he was so very kind to me and Karen adored him." The Rock Star patted his knee, "It meant a lot to him that you came. He was broken up that he couldn't make the wedding so to come on your honeymoon to visit a dying old codger made him feel like a king." They both teared up a bit and then pretended to get absorbed in the photos again.

"I remember when he took that one. That's at the country house. But..Karen spent the whole day picking flowers and making giant arrangements with them. Da never had the heart to tell her they were just weeds. But after she left he never let anyone pull them up again. They were her wildflowers and her meadow from that point on. They loved each other."

The wake went on and turned to more and more of a free for all party. They said their goodbyes and made plans to see the family again at the private entombment of the ashes. The Rock Star glowered at the crowd. "Most of them couldn't be bothered to come visit him when he was sick but here they are enjoying my free booze and my free food. They didn't want to be a part of him when he was living..." they hugged the Rock Star as tightly as they could.

And now the Rock Star had died. He was packing a bag when one of his daughters came in to the room. "When do we leave?"

"In the morning."

She was holding on to her phone. There were a lot of stories being written about the Rock Star as the world mourned him. She wanted to ask about one. The one about his father. "Is it true that he snorted his father's ashes?"

He stopped packing for a moment and tried to decide what to tell her. She knew about drug use. She knew about excesses. But he wasn't sure if she should know about this.

"What does the article say?"

"It says it was always a rumor, that he had said he did something special with part of the ashes but that was all he would say."

"Then we should let it be all he has to say. How about that?"

She thought about it a little bit. "I'll ask Aunt Libby."

He laughed and went back to packing.

Yes, he did something special with the ashes.

Don't eat the brownies. "...they didn't want to be a part of him when he was living. Now he gets to be a part of them."