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Yeah, I was just reading in the Bible where Jesus said he absolutely loved it when he could kiss his wife and kids goodbye not knowing if he as husband and daddy would return, sling his automatic weapon over his shoulder, walk into the jaws of death, and have a GREAT REASON to KILL SOMEBODY, WOOO HOOO!!!

I know I’m supposed to be being kinder, not stronger, not righter. So I’ve suppressed the urge to say this directly to people… I almost forgot I wanted to say it yesterday, but today I hopped on facebook and… I’ll just say it here.

I wholeheartedly agree: Captain Richard Phillips is a national hero. What a horrifying situation. His poor family! What a brave man. He left his ship with the pirates to ransom his passengers, crew and ship. If he’d lost his life it would have been a horrible tragedy– but it would have also been a loving and honorable sacrifice.

I also agree that the sharpshooters who freed him are heroes, truly brave and honorable, who waited to shoot until they felt his life was in danger.

What I do not agree with is all the high-fiving and ‘that’ll teach you to mess with us, sucka’ I am hearing and seeing everywhere regarding the rescue.

Human life was taken.

The sanctity of human life is a favored platform from which to bash political opponents, women forced to ‘choose’ and the unwarshed.

I guess life is sacred unless the sucker deserves it?

When you get down to it, whose life is less precious than another’s? And whose pain or need or sin is greater than another’s? Are we sure we can say?

There is theft of property, which is wrong, and then there is violence against human beings and other living things– double, triple, exponentially more wrong in my book. Most criminals just want property, not to hurt anyone. Many criminals want property in response to, in an attempt to get out of, insane, inhuman conditions– and that’s the kind of conditions they have in Somalia, for darn sure.

Vice Admiral Gortney of the US Navy says this incident could further destabilize this part of the world.

I am very, very proud of how the Americans involved handled this situation. They did what they had to do. Their own lives were at risk. They are heroes. They rescued a hero.

But taking a life is a horrible consequence, and further horrible consequences are possible.

Celebrate Captain Phillips’ well-deserved rescue and the rescuers– God bless them for bravery and honor!

But this is a grave situation.

Those pirates blundered into what has become an international incident and three lost their lives.

Yes, we do reap what we sow, in this world or the next… but do we as fallible human beings get to decide what others reap?

The pirates left the boat peacefully, and kept the captain alive perhaps in hopes of saving their own sorry skins.

I wonder what was going through their heads in those last hours? Were they thinking of wives, children, villages, their once innocent and hopeful childhoods left behind? What they would do if they survived? Or were they just bloodthirsty, greedy animals? Or a bit of each? We’ll never know, I guess.

There are so many people suffering in Somalia– hunger, violence against women, violence in general, corruption, lack of education… how now can we get at the root causes of this piracy, instead of just picking people off one at a time, allowing the cause, and therefore the violence, to continue?

P.S. Speaking of theft and harm to other human beings… is this true? What is the truth?

From Johann Hari, London Independent columnist, April 13, quoted on the Huffington Post (thanks bro)

The words of one pirate from that lost age – a young British man called William Scott – should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: “What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirating to live.” In 1991, the government of Somalia – in the Horn of Africa – collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention.”

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish-stocks by over-exploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea-life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia’s unprotected seas. The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”

This is the context in which the men we are calling “pirates” have emerged. Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somalian fishermen who at first took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a ‘tax’ on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and it’s not hard to see why. In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was “to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters… We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas.” William Scott would understand those words.

if true…


(And no, this is not the blog post I am so proud of. This is a quick, thought of the moment post– the one I’m proud of is on If you’re an Obama fan or liberal or activist or general stirrer upper, take a look at it, if not, don’t. Please. I want you to continue to be my friend.)

Anyway– isn’t it weird the morbid thoughts you have when you’re a mom, not to mention a stressed out one with a, er, creative turn of mind?

Life is short. I’ve been thinking a long time about how important it is to do what matters most each day– some looking to the future, some time spent on habits today that will make me happier and healthy both today and in the future (exercise, spirituality, cleaning or creative work) some documenting of the precious memories of the past, but without fail making sure I also just stop and spend some moments right here right now.

I might be sitting quietly with my little girl, admiring the million and one things about her that, if I just stop and pay attention, never fail to remind me that the Universe is a good place– from quiet things like her tiny freckles on her snub nose and her thick eyelashes, to big things like her insane sense of humor (my fault, I taught her farts were funny when she was twoish, now she’s five, she makes fart jokes all the time, it’s not that funny any more to anyone but her).  I might be just holding my husband’s hand in silence for five minutes, just nothing but being there. I might be deeply absorbed in just enjoying the feel of my body and senses engaged in a long walk or yoga or 30 min of Shimmy, my favorite exercise class, or really engaged in helping a child with homework at the library.

So I’ve been trying to pack up my fall holiday through Christmas stuff in some logical fashion since Epiphany. Half of it is still lying all over my room — crafts, wrapping stuff, items hoarded for next year. My husband has been in cleaning mode for a few weeks and finally got pissed off stuck the lids on the boxes before I’d finished packing and cataloging, and put the boxes which took up our entire dining room on into the attic without asking me.

He said he figured it had been long enough. I said well, it hurts my feelings to think you think I took too long (even though I know I did take too long, because I am so freakin’ detail oriented I just sink, every time) but it makes me feel good to re-frame that into, I took them on upstairs and threw them into the attic because I didn’ t want you to have to worry about them any more. He smiled and seemed to take note — she didn’t take too long. I just didn’t want her to have to worry about it any more.

So I’m doing the last of the packing up and cataloging today. And I’ve thought this several times.  I have always thought that the Law of Attraction is true– you think happy thoughts, expect good things, those good things come. You worry, you attract just what you’re worried about.

Having talked with my mother through the ordeal of my grandmother’s stroke and very gradual recovery and watched Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God– and being the agnostic/new age/eastern/healing school/hardcore former Southern Baptist that I am… I have come to believe that life is just random. No justice. Just– sometimes you are blessed beyond belief, sometimes you get struck down.

There may be a plan for all of this. Even my healing school teacher says hindsight always shows that what you thought was hard at the time ended up being a precious growth experience.  But it’s still random, as far as our understanding goes.

So as I pack each little hoarded item– gifts and ornaments bought half price at Walmart after Christmas, gifts from friends that will be wonderful to decorate/cheer the house up next year, the world’s most expensive origami cranes (paper from Pottery Barn, probably two bucks a crane and incredibly difficult to fold), craft books… I am so excited. As long as it has taken me to get them organized cataloged labeled (including ‘open on’ date) I can’t wait til next year to pull all this out.

So please Lord. I know there’s either a plan I don’t know about whereby everything turns out just as it should, even when it’s not as we think it should be or want it to be, or that it’s completely random and we really can’t change destiny– not because it’s set in stone but because it is just– randome. We cannot divine when these things might occur.

So I make lots of requests, all the time. And I’m not always as grateful as I should be. but I do ask, in Jesus name, for another Christmas with loved ones. I pray for a Christmas full of at least similar gratitude, joy and fun, and more. I claim it, darn it, just like that chaplain praying over my poor Grammy critically injured by that damn stroke– a holiday season that blesses me and every single person I know and don’t know from the crown of their head to the soles of their feet.

I’d like a similar family configuration, preferably with my Grammy at some considerable level of recovery and quality of life, but at the very least my spouse and children and parents and dearest friends, preferably with a great deal less worry than I was experiencing last year the weeks before Christmas when she was struck down.

Please let me open these boxes next October or so and see the season through with joy and hope and comfort for me, my family, and everyone we know and don’t know.


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I am no longer situate.

It isn’t contiguous.

I don’t know if this is the indicator of great personal and societal loss, or the beginning of real living. Or if, as I love to joke lately, I just lost a lot of brain cells in the 90’s. What did Stephen Colbert say recently? Or was it Jon Stewart? The 90’s– if you can remember them, you weren’t THERE!

The brain cell loss is certainly true. But it mightn’t be the 90’s or only the 90’s– it may also be having a baby and the subsequent loss of sleep that pounds a mother’s brain relentlessly from pregnancy through the first two or three years. And it might just be that I am doomed, whether through a college-type rock and roll lifestyle that extended way too long, through genetics, or through environmental toxins and stress, to end my life in dementia before too long and need to get my papers in order.

I was born in DC and moved every 4-5 years, but I grew up in places where families lived all their lives, where old homes and homeplaces remained. My Dad’s career was devoted to an institution that preserves historic and natural resources. My parents carted books about community and old ways of life– Jesse Stuart and the Foxfire books and such– everywhere we moved.

I believed in the mythology of place and community and tribe, and wanted it. I wanted to create a home, raise several kids there, so large and comfortable that friends and family would come and stay at holidays and summers, have my kids come home from college there, bring my grandkids there, die there. I don’t mean to sound like my life is over, although of course you never know. But at least til now, how different from that it has been.

Why I believed in that, I don’t know. Both my parents were raised within the military and attended many, many different schools throughout their lives.

What feels like my mother’s family homeplace, a pre-Civil War farmhouse in what used to be a terribly rural Jefferson County WV, is actually a relatively recent purchase– right before I was born. They’re actually from the complete opposite end of the state, but I don’t know much about that and it seems like it’s all gone now, or at least inaccessible to me. I’m begging mother to write her memoirs, and I promise I’ll wait til everyone’s ‘daid’ to publish them, and it will be worthwhile… but it’s all gone.

My Dad’s mother was the child of Swedish immigrants– talk about no longer situate! And his father’s people left Pittsburgh to become permanent snowbirds in Florida, and his parents landed in Norfolk Virginia just because they were Navy. My parents left the place I called home just by default– longest length of time in one place– to be with my grandmother in Norfolk after my grandfather passed away.

And my own choices– throughout my teen and adult years, building relationships that would inevitably stop fitting, moving all over the Southeast, always taking a new job or getting a new education– I never went Back Northeast for college or work, too timid, too needy for my parents in the end. But I’ve worn some paths around Tennessee, Texas, Georgia and Alabama. Nashville, Atlanta and Houston, and increasingly Louisville, exemplify everything I could ever expect from a city, from the incredible divide between grinding poverty and obscene wealth, to public works and cultural ‘scene’.

But here we are, washed up in Montgomery with a baby and a mortgage… This– flat and hot and so much else– isn’t a place I’d ever have thought I’d raise my baby or buy a home or still be at the age of almost forty. But it has been so good to us we’re stuck.

And it’s not just about place. Place is just symbolic. I no longer feel like any person I ever was. I used to have senses of where I’d been and where I might go. But now I can’t trace any strand or Thread that Runs So True through my life into now much less the future. I don’t even have time to try.

My values, speech, and current end are a perfectly sensible product of my life experience and roots. But, um, what were those, again?

I am by default all about now, all about what I can create in this moment– painting a room in my home or building a friendship or scrambling to keep the house clean and my paycheck coming or making a baby quilt or my latest experiment with vegan food that is nutritious, satisfying, delicious, that my kids will eat.

And I’m not doing too good with just now, either. As I write, my garden goes unworked, my trip to the science museum with my kids goes unmade, the disaster in my kitchen from the impromptu champagne brunch and playdate yesterday (my choice over simply being home alone and being quiet, which is what I long for every day of my life– I loved every minute but you know–) sits attracting and breeding gnats and flies, baby quilts go unquilted.

Would contiguous be better? My best friend from library school just sold the home her grandfather built by the river and bought a place out in a new suburb of Nashville. How could she? Yet the river house just didn’t fit any more. I loved it so much as a college girl, but as a parent I eyed askance the wide and deep river that had once been so comforting and symbolic and looked at the steep cliff of a back yard with suspicion. She didn’t have enough room, she had no toilet on the floor that was her bedroom, her two boys would never be able to play outdoors without a parent watching hawklike every moment.

When I am in very old rural places, whether personal like the place on the Cumberland Plateau where my high school best friend’s entire extended family has lived since nobody can remember when, regardless of the availability of jobs or opportunity. or whether more public like historic sites, sweetness and continuity and longing bloom in my heart. But where does situate end and trapped begin?

I realized a year or so ago when my sister in law left my brother to go ‘home’ to a place my family had only lived for a few years, that complaints, impermanence, rocky marriage and all, my home is absolutely with my husband and baby. He longs to move back to Napa California where he was raised, in contrast to Napa’s mystique, in a family of several kids, a small single income, in tiny rental houses, with a quality of life that he remembers as simple but very good. I don’t want to move where my parents are– it too is hot and flat. I long to move to Nashville or Atlanta or Back Northeast, at least to Metro DC (also a very nice short distance from both sides of my family) if not to Massachusetts, to raise my little girl.

She knows only Montgomery. My stepchildren know only Houston. My husband was talking about folks who can afford things like Priuses and an organic environmentally friendly lifestyle (and yes, this includes us, with my veganism and gas guzzling SUV and our huge, fossil-fuel sucking, uninsulated house) sitting around sniffing their farts from wine glasses, and I realized… If we moved back to Maryland… well, as he put it, there wouldn’t be a wine glass big enough.

And we’re not going any damn where. We’re going to sit right here and live our life and pay our mortgage and rack up and pay down consumer debt until disaster strikes or the panic of retirement years is upon us.

I’ve often thought that if my life and perception of my life was more contiguous and situate, things would be simpler and I could get more done. That may be true, and it may not. That’s been my little stumbling block or defense. I’ve always had the fact that I’ve just been through a major life change– move, marriage, baby, job loss, new job– to fall back on to explain why I am where I am.

I was reading Willy Leventhal’s interview of Dawn Halfaker in The Brett Brothers: Brothers Bats and Balls… and Other Life Lessons in Sports. She talked about applying the discipline she learned in athletics to the process of regaining a life– not her old life, but a life, and a good one– after losing her right arm in Iraq.

I don’t in any way compare my suburban existence to her service and sacrifice and strength. And I’m a little mad at her for saying the women’s game isn’t as good as the men’s. But what if instead of wringing my hands, instead of Mother’s Little Helper, I applied athletic style discipline– practice, routine, facing it down even when I don’t want to– to all the things I wish were true, and really worked at making them true? I’m not getting a lot of sleep of late… why not just use that time? And why not just shuck it– stop using my Eastern style spirituality as a pacifier and actually live it instead?

A person who’s had a very chaotic and ugly role in my life– my soul sister, daughter, reflection, my opposite (at least as I perceive it) in every conceivable way, my agent of chaos, liar, schemer, destroyer– said to me recently– you know when I thought my life was so bad? Those were the good years and I just didn’t know it.

As, in retrospect, too late as always for the conversation, I wanted to say to her… so how about some acceptance and gratitude, bitch? Stop clawing at anything and everything like a crab in a bucket.

I keep thinking I’m pretty darn grateful and accepting… but it’s obviously time to keep going, to enjoy my bucket.

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