Monday, November 7, 2016

The Presidential Circus of 2016

It is election eve.  Time magazine has posted a picture of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton together, holding a sign saying "The End Is Near."

That statement could be open to several interpretations

This current election cycle, however, is nearing its end.  It has lasted approximately 82 years.  At least it feels that way.

When thinking back on this election, I am reminded of a three-ring circus.  At the center is Donald Trump, the ringmaster who shouts insults and slanderous remarks at the circus performers.  Half of the crowd screams in approval.  The other half pelts him with popcorn and soda cups.

At the center ring is Hillary Clinton, who walks precariously on a tightrope above a huge pit divided into two parts.  One part contains thousands of swirling emails.  The other is occupied by a so-called "basket of deplorables" holding pitchforks and sharp sticks and eagerly waiting for her to falter.

In the left-hand ring, we have Bernie Sanders, staunchly trying to tame the lion that is the Democratic Party with a spray bottle filled with water.  The right ring contains a clown car out of which pop the 16 former Republican presidential hopefuls.  There never seems to be an end to them and they make absolutely no sense as they climb over each other and attempt to shout down one another.  They are, however, clearly terrified of the ringmaster, who declares them all idiots and keeps pointing to his hands, showing off how large they are.

I am not excited nor hopeful of the change to come in 2016.  If Clinton is elected, she will be continually surrounded by controversy, distrust and questioning of her judgement.  A Republican-held Congress would behave much as they have over the past six years by putting partisanship ahead of what is good for the country, preferring to mimic a group of preschoolers in a sandbox who will take their toys and go home if they don't get their way.

And if Donald Trump wins, there will be no more elections.  Either he will declare himself president for life, or we will all be dead in four years.

Either way, I am steeling myself for a not-so-bright future.  I wish I could be like an ostrich and simply stick my head in the sand until the next election cycle.  Or until the earth is blown to bits when some world leader says something insulting to Donald Trump on Twitter.

If you are excited about your particular choice for president, I wish you luck.  If you are like me, the best advice I can give you is keep drinking until the election is over.  Then stay drunk for the next four years.

If you are disappointed with tomorrow's results, don't despair for long.  After all, it won't be long until the circus is back in town.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Another One Bites the Dust

It is 2016.  Our world as we know it will never be the same.  The nation is truly in trouble.  Our faith in our leaders have been shaken to the core.

Brad and Angelina are getting a divorce.

The demise of this Hollywood super couple has grabbed headlines, at times overshadowing the presidential election. The public and media seem to be in shock that the ultimate Hollywood marriage has hit the skids.  I, however, am not.

Marriage is difficult enough with two distinct personalities carrying two varying perspectives trying  to survive in one household. Conflict is unavoidable in the best marriages, and the fight to work it through day after day can be overwhelming.

Add to that a gaggle of paparazzi reporting on your every move, going through your trash and hounding your children, and any semblance of a normal life, or a normal marriage, becomes virtually impossible.  No wonder so many celebrity marriages dissolve.

You would think that having it all--fame, fortune and a picture-perfect family--would translate to eternal happiness.  But according to an article in The Huffington Post, those are the exact reasons why these marriages fail.

The article by M. Gary Neuman, "Why Do Celeb Marriages a Fail?" lists some interesting reasons why Hollywood couples can't seem to keep it together.  Celebrities seem to accept that they will be spending long periods of time away from home and family and embrace the delusion that short visits at home to "catch up" is sufficient to maintain long-term relationships.

There also seems to be an issue with defining themselves as a "couple."  With much of their time spent living individual lives and pursuing their own careers at the expense of time at home, it is quite easy to realize that you can live without the other person. With more time spent on self-indulgence and less time building a life with their partner, separation becomes rather easy.

As the story of their own "conscious uncoupling" begins to evolve, we will surely be riveted to our screens with morbid fascination.  There is something a bit satisfying about perfect people having their dirty laundry aired in public.

So the next time I find my husband's dirty socks on the kitchen island, or he leaves the outdoor hose running for six hours for no apparent reason, I will not become frustrated.  I will realize how lucky I am.

After all, I could be jet-setting off to a Paris movie set, leaving my children with their au pair, while conferencing with my lawyers whether or not my pre-nup will hold up in court.  I could be Angelina.

The horror of it all.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


While searching for some photos to display at my son's graduation party earlier this summer, I came across one that at first glance did not seem very worthwhile.  Upon retrospect, however, it speaks volumes.

It is a photo of Sean as a little boy, probably just over a year old, taken around 1998.  He is walking out of a room followed by his constant companion back then, our Labrador retriever, Zak.

Both of them are facing away from the camera.  In itself, the photo is unremarkable.

Until you realize that the dog in the picture passed away in 2010 after being part of our family for more than 13 years.  And the little boy in the picture started college today.

To me, the picture represents the passage of time. How a small child toddling from a room followed by his dog one day is suddenly headed off to his first college class.  And it seemed to happen in the blink of any eye.

We see our children every day, not realizing how much they grow and change.  Not understanding how quickly time will go by and how soon they will leave us to discover their place in the world. One day, they will walk out that door and be on their own.

There were days when my children were young and I would imagine how it would be when they are a little older, a little more independent.  Now, I would do anything to turn back time so I could savor every moment, not rush through them hoping for the next one.

There will be many more doorways in our future.  Now I understand that I need to pause those passages, just for a moment, to savor the smile, the hug, or the pure memory of it.

The saying goes when one door closes, another opens.  As they open for my children, I hope I have the chance to linger at them just for a little while. I know now that they will walk through the next one all too quickly.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Getting My Inner Nerd On

I have been looking forward to the end of July.  Not because I love summer (which I do).  Not because we were taking a vacation.  I was excited because the next Star Trek movie would be coming out. I saw it last week, and it was awesome.

I admit it.  I am a nerd at heart.

I love sci-fi and horror films.  I read all of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games books and saw the movies in the theaters.  I am working on the Divergent series.

I loved The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies.  We have the extended versions of all of them.

I am a Science Channel junkie, especially anything that has to do with space.  Neil Degrasse Tyson is my hero.

I would sign up for the program to go to Mars if I did not have a family.  On days they were driving me completely insane, I had to restrain myself from putting in an application.

I was a huge sci-fi fan when I was young and religiously watched all of the Star Trek reruns and movies.  I saw all of the Star Wars films in the theaters.  But as I got older, I thought sci-fi was, well, not cool.  And the most important thing in any teen's life is to try to fit in.  So I diligently suppressed my science fiction urges.

Then in the 1990's a new Star Trek series was launched.  My husband and I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation and watched it faithfully.  It was then I realized that I was a grown-up  and did not have to answer to anyone for my likes or dislikes.

The point is we are all adults.  None of has to hide our inner geek urges any longer.  It it time to embrace them, people.

I invite all of you to confess your deepest dweeb secrets right here and now.  Let go of those inhibitions.  Embrace your inner nerd.

Do it now.  Let your geek flag fly, my friends.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Trump Card

There is a phenomenon sweeping the U.S. right now.  It has bad hair, bad manners and a bad fake tan that resembles that of an Oompa Loompa.  And it's name is Donald Trump.

I have to say I just don't get the Trump appeal.  People say they support him because he is not a politician.  He is also a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic,  misogynistic narcissist, but apparently they are able to overlook that.

Let me say that I am not pro-Hilary Clinton.  I have many issues with her as well.  And Bernie Sanders has apparently taken a break from reality.  If Donald Trump has a list of vice presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders' name should be at the top as he is doing wonders to insure that Trump will be our next president.

Common sense and reality have taken a back seat in this country in the last couple of years.  Apparently it has now opened the door and jumped out of the car.

There is a reason he began dropping out of the debates as the Republican field narrowed.  There is a reason he backed out of debating Bernie Sanders.  It is because he is all talk with no real plan of action behind it.

Trump claims he will go into the Middle East and take on ISIS.  Exactly how he is planning to do that is a complete guess, but if he intends to do a Rambo and send U.S. troops in alone, the consequences will be a disaster.

The Middle East has been a notoriously unstable region throughout history, yet for any foreign country to go in unprovoked, regardless of their intentions, will be seen as an invasion by not only the Middle East, but likely by the rest of the free world as well.  All this will succeed in doing is turn the entire region against the U.S., including friendly nations such as Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.  And if you think that any of our allies like Great Britain, Canada and Australia will back a U.S invasion of the Middle East, you are off in LaLa Land with Bernie.

Secondly, if we learned any lessons from the Vietnam War, there is something to be said about winning the hearts and minds of the people in a oppressed region.   The people of the Middle East are exposed to the violence that ISIS perpetrates far more than anyone in the West.  But to come into their homelands unprovoked and uninvited, destroying their villages and killing civilians in an attempt to weed out terrorists will do nothing more than turn their contempt for ISIS into support, as it did with the Viet Cong in Vietnam.  We will be only be proving ISIS' claims that the West is determined to destroy Islam and its people if Trump gets his way.

I find it amusing that Trump has gone after Bill Clinton for his extra-marital affairs.  Not that I am defending Bill Clinton--I find what he did repulsive.  But for Trump to go after Clinton when he himself was fooling around with the second Mrs. Trump while married to the first Mrs. Trump, and then cheat on the second Mrs. Trump, is the ultimate example of the pot calling the kettle black.  And as for Hilary Clinton being an "enabler" in her husband's affairs, Trump should know.  He was apparently married to a couple of enablers himself.

And Donald's going to build a wall.  To keep out all of those Mexican rapists.  And he will get Mexico to pay for it and they will be happy about it.

This is a country where 42 percent of its citizens live below the poverty line.  There biggest export is the illegal drug trade.  And Trump believes they will happily hand over an estimated $2.4 billion (and this is a conservative estimate) to build a wall.  That figure does not include the cost of maintaining said wall, nor does it cover patrolling and monitoring all 2,000 miles of it, which will be virtually impossible to do.

Trump makes me nervous.  And if I am nervous, the rest of the free world is outright terrified about what would happen if Trump makes it to the White House.  I read an article recently with quotes from various world leaders about Donald Trump.  All of them questioned his character, stability and qualifications.  The Swedish prime minister actually said that if Trump is elected, we should all head for the bunkers.

Even if you point this out, his supporters will not care.  They do not care that he supported Hilary Clinton's senatorial runs. They will not care that he went from being pro-choice to advocating criminal charges against women who have abortions.  They will not care that there is no substance to what he says, no clear plan or agenda for this country, that has made it fashionable to once again be a racist, or that he changes his mind faster than you can apply to Trump University. Don't get your hopes up waiting for that acceptance letter.

The man could fly to Italy and assassinate the Pope in front of thousands of people in the middle of St. Peter's Square, and his supporters would not only get him off of the murder charges but would also still vote for him as president.  They would also start a campaign for his canonization to sainthood.  Never mind that he is not Catholic.  And still alive.

The bottom line is that, even though I am not a fan of Hilary Clinton, I refuse to vote for a man who believes that all blacks are criminals, all Mexicans are rapists, all Muslims are terrorists, and women are nothing more than pigs, dogs and objects to be judged by their appearance alone.  Making America "great" again should not involve stepping back 50 years to a time where violence, bigotry an out and out contempt for others based solely on race, religion or gender are part of what is considered a great society.

United we stand, divided we fall.  His only clear plan for this country is playing on the fear, ignorance, stereotypes and innuendos of those citizens who are angry or misinformed to attain another "asset." And the White House would be the ultimate feather in Donald Trump's cap.  We should not be electing a president whose only agenda seems to divide us further and lead us stumbling blindly, and alone, into a world that is rapidly and unpredictably changing.

Many people believe that he is the "Trump Card" that will fix what ails this country.  As for me, this is one hand that I will not play.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Throwing Shade at the Queen B

I have a confession to make.  It is one I do not let many people know.  It is not one that I am necessarily proud to admit.

The only way to get through something this difficult is to just blurt it out.  So here goes. . .

I am not a fan of Beyonce.  In fact, I think she is overrated.

I have tried to like her music.  And I have to admit that "Single Ladies" is a pretty catchy song.  But is it enough of a reason for me to bow down before her like the rest of the world?  Frankly, no.

She has an okay voice.  She is a good dancer.  She is a beautiful woman.  But there are thousands of other women who are equally good in all of these categories, and many are better.

I realize that being a non-Beyonce fan is an anomaly.  Saturday Night Live even devoted a skit to this very topic.  It's like non-Beyonce fans are some kind of social outcasts or deviants.

Al Roker recently mispronounced the name of her collective fans, the "Beyhive," on the Today Show. He referred to them as the"bay-hive" rather than the correct pronunciation, which is "bee-hive." He received hundreds of angry tweets and emails, including one from his own daughter. He probably does not receive anywhere near that reaction when he incorrectly predicts the weather or makes a slightly off-color comment. But God forbid he insults the Queen B.

So go ahead and hurl your insults and degrade me on social media. I am standing my ground.

Just don't sick the Beyhive on me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Healing Power of Water

I walk my dog, Chloe, almost every morning.  The morning air is a wonderful way to clear your head and sharpen your senses early in the day.

One of our favorite routes takes us past the Shiawasee River.  Not only is it enjoyable to watch the seasons change along the riverbank and look for the neighborhood geese that call it home, but there is something restorative about the sound of water.

Nearly every morning, we stop for at least a few moments and enjoy the seasons along the river banks.  We listen to the sound of the water rushing under the bridge, or marvel at how beautiful the trees look covered in fresh snow. We anticipate the buds on the trees and the sprouting plants in the spring, or watch as the colors emerge in the cool fall weather. We breathe in the air and take a moment just to be. Rather, I breathe in the air.  Chloe munches on the grass.

If you allow it, the sound of the water flowing by can take your worries and cares with it, even if it is just for a moment.  No matter how busy the day ahead, I always allow a few moment for the water to wash all the stress from my life before heading back home to face the day.

At home I have two ornamental ponds, one in the front and one in the back of my house, that I try to spend a few moments enjoying every day during warm weather.  I have two small tabletop fountains inside my house that run every day.  Obviously I have a lot of stress in my life.

There is a reason that, throughout history, settlements have always sprung up around water.  It is essential for life, but also restorative for the soul.

So the next time you find yourself overwhelmed with work deadlines, family obligations and the day to day annoyances of life, seek out the sound of running water.  You will be surprised at what it can wash away.