Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013: The State of the Bucket List

As 2013 approaches many people are starting to formulate new year's resolutions.  I suppose I'm not immune to the idea that it's a good time to start over and learn some new habits.  Still, I'd rather not dwell too much on self-improvement projects.  Self-improvement should be a lifetime endeavor, not a once-a-year goal.

What I'd rather do is start focusing on what I haven't done with my life and what I'd like to do.  It's 2013.  I've been on this earth almost 43 years.  There is much of the world I still haven't seen yet.  What are my priorities?  What do I still want to do?

The top item on my Bucket List is simply to travel more.  I can't think of a time in my life when I didn't want to go out and explore the world. 

Growing up I did very little traveling.  Going on vacation meant packing a bag on a summer weekend and getting into the car with my grandparents to either go visit my uncle in Vermont or perhaps take a trip to Cape Cod with a side trip to visit my grandfather's family in the Boston area.  Some summers we made both trips and some summers we did only one.  It also meant Mom taking my brother and me to some resort or inn in the off season with a large group of her friends.  For a few years my father had a girlfriend whose family had a house in the Poconos and we sometimes went there.  I had the privilege of going to a sleepaway riding camp in New Hampshire one summer, but my regular "big vacation"  all throughout my teens was a week at Bible camp.  It doesn't sound too thrilling, but it was an entire week away and it was a week without the rather stifling influence of my family. (You know you're being suffocated by your family when Bible camp feels like a break.)  I had my big break in high school when I boarded a plane for the first time and took my first trip abroad for a tour of Italy. 

I don't mean to disparage any of the trips I took.  I enjoyed my trips.  I have all kinds of good memories from many of them.  I just realized by the time I was in junior high that the world was full of interesting sites and I wanted to see all of them and was frustrated that I wasn't seeing any of them.

Since I met Kevin I have definitely been more places than I ever expected. We have taken two Caribbean cruises.  We have spent a Christmas or two in Florida. We have been to five national parks and three foreign countries together.  I watched Old Faithful erupt and kissed my husband at the top of the Eiffel Tower all in one year.  I fulfilled a lifelong dream of galloping across the Irish countryside and also satisfied my burning desire to return to Italy (and doing it even better than the first time by seeing it on horseback as well). 

I find the more I travel, the more it feeds my desire to keep traveling.  The more I see of the world, the more I want to see.  When I was younger traveling did intimidate me a bit.  I had a fear of navigating airports and losing luggage.  I have done it enough times that I am far more confident.  It helps that I did a fair amount of business travel in my old job and had to make my way through various transportation systems alone. 

One of the major reasons why I made the decision to be child-free was that I knew children would impede my goal of seeing the world.  They eat up resources.  They require time.  Children tend to not appreciate museums, historical sites and natural beauty until their ages are in double digits (and how far into double digits can vary wildly).  Vacation destinations need to be kid-friendly and on a budget.  Traveling is limited to when they are off from school, which means peak travel times, which makes them more expensive.  When I think of the trip Kevin and I took in the spring of 2012 to the Canyonlands, I know it was something we never could have done with kids.  The cost of the trip would have been prohibitive for more than just the two of us.  Only fit teens would have been able to deal with some of the hikes Kevin and I did in places like Bryce and Zion.  It would not have been wise to have children along on our wine-swilling Italy trip (and what if the children were not good enough riders to handle the sometimes difficult horses we rode?) 

Many of my friends and acquaintances with kids will point out that you are supposed to do those things before you have kids.  Well, I was pretty broke in my twenties and didn't have the money to take exotic vacations.  Throughout my twenties the only place I went all year was Chincoteague (which is ironically a very kid-friendly destination) and that was just once a year.  I didn't have the vacation time or the money to see the world before settling down and having kids.

I suppose I have a little mid-life crisis going on.  My life is roughly half over and there wasn't much happening in the first half.  I need to make up for lost time.  I also need to prioritize.  What places are most important to me?  Here is the list.

United States

I will start my US wish list by saying that this list is going to focus mainly on cities.  I do want to see the many many natural wonders of the US.  However, my husband has a wish list of his own, and that consists of seeing every national park in the US. I am just as eager to see these places, but I'll just tag along on his bucket list with those. 

San Francisco - I definitely want to check out the food and the sights here.  This one has a high likelihood of happening since Yosemite is next on the list for national parks visits.  Kevin promised me some time in San Francisco when we go to Yosemite.

New Orleans - I want to indulge in restaurants and see the historical sites and the architecture.  I want to get a taste of the voodoo culture, which I find fascinating.  I would probably rather not do Mardi Gras though. 

Salem, MA - This is a fascinating historical city due to both its seafaring past and its more infamous history.  It's close enough for a long weekend sometime.  Kevin and I really need to make plans to go here.

Hawaii - I dreamed of going to Hawaii ever since I was a little kid.  It always seemed like the most beautiful, glamorous paradise in the world.  Kevin would never go to Hawaii without seeing Pearl Harbor, which would be the first priority when we get there.  Once we have seen the major sites of Oahu, I want to move on to Kauai.  The natural beauty there looks spectacular from what I've seen in the media, and it looks like the perfect place for outdoor activities like hiking, riding, and kayaking.  Maybe it's the place where I'll finally learn to surf.

Charleston/Savannah - I would like to get a feel for southern hospitality and good southern food in these charming-looking cities.  Thesre are cities with great historical and architectural sights. 

Florida Keys - My ultimate trip here would start with Key West where I can take in the galleries, shops, and restaurants.  Then I'd like to do as I would do in Hawaii and head to one of the less busy islands like Key Largo and enjoy the nature side.  I'd do some snorkeling and beachcombing and kayaking/paddleboarding. 

There are nice places to go without even leaving my home state.  I would love to take a weekend here.  Unlike other vacations that would take us away from the horses for the weekend, we can drive to the barn in reasonable time from here. We can just take a ride down Route 94. It would give me a feel for how the 1% lives.

I think I might like to take a road trip all over my home state.  New York is a big state and I have seen so little of it.   I'd visit the Adirondacks, the Finger Lakes, Niagra Falls,  Lake George, and Seneca Falls.   I need to make a road trip just to the Hunter Dinerant!

Europe

BeNeLux Region - Well, really more BeNe than Lux.  I really want to go to Amsterdam.  It looks like a fun city with lots to see and do.  I would rent a bike and ride through the park.  I would take a boat ride through the canals. This is the homeland of Rembrandt and it provides ample musuems and artsy opportunities.  I would see the Anne Frank house. I would take a tour of the countryside to see the windmills.  Brussels and Bruges look equally charming (and let's not forget the chocolate).  I have been told the city of Luxembourg is filled with many historical treasures that would likely be worth seeing, but it's just not as big a priority.  If I can make it there, I'll go, but I won't cry over the loss.

I have tried to get Kevin to agree to a BeNeLux trip for our 15th anniversary, but he won't commit.

Copenhagen - I know Kevin would love to aim his camera lens at the fjords of Norway and the hydrothermic wonders of Iceland, and those are worthy destinations, but when it comes to Scandinavia, my first priority is Copenhagen.  Why?  Well, when I was a kid I had this book called, Leisie, a Danish Girl from Dragor.  It was some hand-me-down book that a relative gave me.  It was a photo essay type of book showing pictures of a real girl from a little town in Denmark and what her life was like.  She would go to Copenhagen with her friends and family for outings.  It looked like such a charming city, like one of those places that could exist in a fairytale.  Yes, I know Stockholm, Oslo, and Bergen have charms of their own and I would like to experience the midnight sun sometime, but not until I see Copenhagen.

Vienna - Do I need to say anything beyond The Spanish Riding School?  Well, yes.  I do want to see the historical sites and architecture as well as the parks - and of course indulge the desserts.

Greek Islands - The only reason I watch the Mamma Mia movie is to take in the scenery of that gorgeous Mediterranean paradise. I want to explore those whitewashed buildings and blue water beaches.

Horseback Riding Trips I Want To Take

I rode a horse through County Clare in Ireland and through the vineyards of Tuscany.  A horse is the best way to see the countryside.  A horse can go where cars and bicycles can't, but can cover more ground than you can on foot.  Best of all, your horse becomes an extra, and very special, traveling companion throughout the journey.

California Wine Country - I did some rides to wineries in Italy, but there are trips in California that focus solely on riding to wineries.  I can't imagine how great the food would be on trips like this in addition to the beautiful countryside.

I do have some reservations about trips like this.  All of the trips offered of this type are strictly Western saddle.  I learned a rather painful lesson after a four-hour trail ride in Arizona that Western saddles and I don't get along for long periods of time.  The long-held belief by many is that Western saddles are more comfortable on long rides than English saddles.  I find the opposite to be true. 

However, a trip like this might not be too bad if we're frequently dismounting for the winery visits.  If we're drinking wine along the stops, the discomfort might be eased even more. ;-)

Kevin has suggested doing a trip up the west coast by train instead.  I'll certainly consider it.

Scotland - When I first learned about Irish riding holidays as a kid I knew I had to take one.   At the same time, I also learned of similar trips in Scotland.  I would love to ride across windswept highlands and along the shores of lochs, staying in old castles.  I'll just have to accept that I won't always love the weather conditions.

France - Provence/Mediterranean Coast - Imagine galloping through the picturesque lavender fields or down a beach with blue water.  If lavender makes you sleepy, will riding through the fields make your horse lazy?  I'm willing to find out.  I'd love to ride through Carmauge and also visit the rustic French farms and tiny villages.

France - Loire Valley - I imagine this as the opposite of the farmlands of Provence.  The rides offered in the Loire Valley consist of stately mansions and castles with fine food and fine wine.  It would be a different ride, with a different type of charm. I'm all about woodlands and castles.

Germany - Rhine River Valley - I don't have the same burning desire to see the cities of Germany but I would love to see the castles on the Rhine.  Riding a horse along a castle-dotted river valley would make me feel as if I'm living in a fairytale. 

Places I have been that I would like to return to

Memphis - Was here just one night for Kevin's cousin's wedding. We liked it and now want to see more.  We would explore Graceland, the duck round up at the Peabody, and Beale Street.  Some good Memphis barbecue would be a must for dinner.

London - I have been here three times, but only on business. I did manage to see many sights while I was there, but  I would like to go with Kevin and be able to spend all of my time touring rather than just some of it.  Ideally we would start our trip in London and then head to the southwest of England to visit the area where Kevin went to school. 

Come to think of it, there is much more of England I'd like to see in general.  I haven't seen other cities or the countryside.  That all has to be rather high on the bucket list.

Paris - You can never get enough of this place.

Costa Rica - I was here just for a few hours via cruise ship.  I rode a horse through a beautiful rain forest and saw some interesting fauna.  I know there is so much more to see.  I want to see the volcano and the cloud forest.  I want to relax on the gorgeous beaches.

Grand Cayman - Out of all of the Caribbean islands Kevin and I saw via cruise ship, I think we liked this one the best.  Granted, I really haven't spent nearly as much time in the Caribbean as I would like, and I am very open to trying other islands as well.  I really just crave the same thing in any Caribbean destination: warm weather, clear blue water for swimming and water sports, white sand beaches for relaxing, horseback riding in beaches and rain forests, and general tropical outdoorsy-ness.

Italy - Doesn't matter where. I just love Italy.  I think my next priority there would be the Amalfi coast though.  I would also like to return to Venice.

Chincoteague - And so I return there every summer.  I hope to do so for the rest of my life.

Second Tier Destinations

If I manage to do all of the above.  Where would I go next?

Seattle
Austin
Portland
Prague
Budapest
Madrid
Barcelona - I'm not sure how I would survive in Spain.  Everyone is a "night person" there and people stay up all night and sleep in.  That is so not me.
Croatia - How do you spell the name of that city where everyone goes these days?
The Rest of Scandinavia that Isn't Copenhagen - See above - midnight sun, fjords, hydrothermic wonders, and interesting cities
Bavaria - Munich and some of the other cities of that region look like fun spots.
Switzerland - I know it's my ancestral homeland, so I should want to go there more, even if it's just to be in a place where there are lots of other people named Zenhausern.  I'm just not all that clear as to where I would want to go in Switzerland.  If I were a skier, it would be easier, but I'm not a skier.
Quebec and Montreal
Lake Louise
Vancouver

The "Dream On" Destinations

Will I ever be able to afford to go to these places?  Would I be able to sit through the long plane rides?  Time will tell.

Bali
Phuket
Bora Bora - I want to stay in those huts on stilts in the water where someone brings you your breakfast by boat.
Beijing
Tokyo
African Safari - Botswana, Namibia, or Tanzania.  I'll figure out where if the time ever comes.
Zanzibar
Seychelles
Maldives
Australia and New Zealand - Haven't figured out the specifics of exactly where yet.  Again, it's so unlikely that I'll go that I don't have to worry exactly where.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Refuse...

I refuse to buy into the paranoia that I am likely to be killed by some random psycho at any given moment.  Yes, it can happen.  Yes, it does happen.  No, it's not likely to happen.  Incidents of mass shootings receive large amounts of media attention that feeds our fear.  We remember them because they happen infrequently relative to everything that happens in our everyday lives.  The person statistically most likely to kill me sleeps in my bed at night.  Every single one of us is more likely to be killed by someone we know than by a random stranger.  Our children are more likely to die in our cars than be killed by random gunfire, but we still insist on driving them to school because if they walk, they might be killed by random gunfire.

I refuse to believe that the only answer to random gun violence is more guns.  An eye for an eye only leads to more blindness.  Starting a micro-level arms race is only going to feed the paranoia and mistrust that this country already suffers from already and to far too much of an extent.

I refuse to believe that this is a "Christian Nation" when Christianity was founded by a man who encouraged non-violence, declared "turn the other cheek", and encouraged His followers during His life to love one another.  It seems the folks who claim to be His followers now seem so enamored of weapons of violence and death.  How does that work?

If you don't like this mini-rant, tough.  Go rebut it in your own blog.  I am on Facebook every day.  You're not going to change my mind by posting your random stories from Fox News/National Review/Washington Times/World Net Daily/Free Republic;  your outdated/exaggerated facts about other countries whose gun laws seem more permissive than ours; your one-in-a-million stories about the one heroic shooter who managed to stop a mass killing with his own gun.  Yes, I see all of your posts, all of your rebuttals.  I see your point.  I accept that you have it.  I accept that it's different from mine.  Now please go away and let me feel the way I do, and express it as I see fit, with no harm done to anyone. I will happily show you the same courtesy.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Irksome Facebook Post of the Week

In the midst of tragedy, comes lots and lots of stupidity.  I should probably just stay off Facebook so I can avoid being so thoroughly irked by the Gods 'n' Guns folks, but it's like a train wreck. I can't look away.

What post gets under my skin the most?




















So what exactly do you mean that God isn't "allowed" in schools?  Last time I checked, there were no signs outside schools that say "No gods allowed."  I have seen signs that say "No dogs allowed."  Is this supposedly omnipotent God dyslexic?

The law states that a school, which is a public institution, can't sponsor any particular religion itself.  Schools can't tell a student what to believe, or when to pray, or state implicitly or explicitly that one particular belief system is the truth.  Children are free to believe what they wish to believe and act on those beliefs accordingly as long as they are not disruptive to the school activities or infringe upon the rights of other students.

So your omnipotent God doesn't get this? Is God that stupid?

Let's assume God does get this.  What God is saying here is that He/She doesn't like this rule.  It makes sense.  God said so in the Bible that He is jealous.  You're supposed to have no other gods before Him, right?  That means the beliefs of kids who aren't Christian shouldn't be respected in His eyes.  We're all supposed to worship one God and schools should encourage this, just as the Constitution says (wait a minute...)

What this is essentially saying is that God doesn't like the rules made by adults, so He refuses to do anything to prevent the slaughter of innocents who are simply living within the rules laid out for them.  God is just being a huge diva.

God is a real jerk if this statement is true.

Also, what's God's excuse for shootings in churches?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dear NYSC: Do You Realize How Sexist You Are?

Recently my gym went through some minor renovations.  Mostly it was just a redecoration.  The walls got some new paint and wallpaper.  I think they did some stuff to the floors as well.  Let's hope working out amongst the fumes didn't do my health a disservice (as if I, or any of my fellow gym rats could part with our workouts due to fumes).

Not only were the walls covered with new paint and wallpaper, but there are some new wall decorations as well (and fewer clocks, which really irks me).  Once you pass through the reception desk and head to the main floor, you will see on your right side two mural-sized photos.

The first photo depicts a group of men playing a friendly game of touch football.  The men are all adults who could be anywhere from their twenties to their forties. They look like ordinary guys.  Their bodies are mostly obscured by jerseys and sweatshirts.  Some of them look a little thick, but it's hard to tell if they're overweight or just very muscular.  They don't look like fitness models.  They look like guys you might know.  They seem to send a message that as long as one stays in shape, an adult can still have fun.

The next photo is for the women.  It depicts a lone woman running.  She is pushing a jogging stroller with one hand.  She is dressed in a sports bra and bike shorts.  Although the photo is in soft focus, it is clear the woman is quite lean.  Unlike the men in the other photos whose faces are in sharp focus, but whose bodies are hidden under clothing, you really can't see this woman's face.  All you notice is that she has thin thighs, defined arms, and a flat stomach.  What message is this sending to the viewers, especially in contrast to the men's photo?

The men in the first photo look old enough to be fathers, but are not pictured with their children.  They're enjoying their "guy time".  They're not dressed to show off their bodies.  Men, it seems, are allowed to look sloppy, have less-than-ideal bodies, and be away from their kids.

If the photos were meant to show how working out is supposed to enable one's real world activities, it seems  New York Sports Club assumes taking care of kids is the only real world activity women are involved in.  What's worse is the assumption that she must look good doing it.  The woman in the photo does not even have a face.  She's just a hot body running with a stroller.  She is almost inhuman.  How many mothers with babies do you know who look like that (and have the energy to run)?  How many women realistically run dressed like that?  (I suppose if I had that body I'd run dressed like that if the weather were warm enough.) 

Why not show a woman playing a sport and show it in a realistic way?  How about a woman in uniform in a martial arts studio?  How about her playing tennis?  How about her riding a horse?  Maybe you could depict a woman surfing or paddelboarding (and then you can somewhat realistically put her in a bikini if sexing it up means that much to you).  Grown women with children participate in any number of physical activities every day and often without their children.  I don't like this depiction showing that the only way a woman can be active outside the gym is to jog with the kid while her husband plays football (and she has too look impossibly good while doing it).

Family time should be encouraged by the gym for both genders.  Active children should be a priority for parents, so I think we need some photos showing active childcare.  Why aren't the kids playing football with the men in the first picture?  How about showing the whole family biking or hiking or kayaking together?  I would love to see photos of women with more diverse body shapes while we're at it.  What's good for the gander is excellent for the goose.

I guess that's not what sells gym memberships.  Although that's what you might think on the surface, NYSC isn't about trying to showcase the benefits of a healthy lifestyle in a realistic fashion.  It's selling a fantasy.  The first photo is really saying, "Work out at our gym and you will be able to best your friends in physical competition."  The second photo is really saying, "Work out at our gym and you will have a hot body even if you have children."  Those are the true assumptions they are making with those photos, and I guess it works.

So I guess they do know how sexist they are.  Unfortunately, they feel it sells and retains members, so I doubt anything will change.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Welcome to Christmas in Hell

Ah Christmas!  Could there be anything more heartwarming than a beautiful tree festooned with festive light and decorations gracing your living room?  I tell you it just makes me feel like Marie Stahlbaum peeking through the keyhole on Christmas Eve.

Screw that!  Christmas is now torture.

No, this is not another "War on Christmas" rant.  This is a rant about how Christmas has suddenly declared war on me.

For the first few years were were together, Kevin and I often traveled at Christmas time, so we weren't home to decorate.  Once we started staying home for the holidays,  I was determined to start decorating our place. 

I always insist on a real tree.  I have several reasons for that.  When I buy a real tree I am harvesting a sustainable crop, supporting a local farmer, and eventually discarding a tree I know is compostable.  I prefer that to a tree made of petrochemicals in a Chinese sweatshop by some big corporation that will sit in a landfill if I ever decide I don't want it anymore.  It's also not practical for me to have a fake tree.  I live in an apartment and have no place to store one in the off season. 

This weekend  I went to my favorite nursery, selected my tree, and brought it home.  At first all I did was bring it in and set it up in the stand.  I didn't decorate it right away and I didn't even remove the constraining twine used to make transporting it easier.

Saturday night, struck with one of my usual bouts of insomnia (serves me right for drinking two lychee martinis at Red plum - once the alcohol wears off my brain rebounds with a vengeance), I found myself awake with a book in the living room.  My nose started running.  At first I thought nothing of it.  I just grabbed a tissue and carried on.  Then it kept running.  The problem didn't disappear in the bedroom, but it was worse in the living room.

I left the house early to go to the gym and then spent the rest of the day at the barn.  I can be rather sneezy and sniffly at the barn as horses and hay dust really irritate me on dry winter days, but surprisingly, I felt much better away from home.

We came back home in the evening. As soon as we arrived home, my eyes started itching and I began sneezing in earnest.  What I had suspected at 4AM that morning was become more evident to me that evening.  I was allergic to my Christmas tree.  I told Kevin this. He seemed surprised.  I said maybe we should dispose of the tree before we start decorating it.  He would not hear of it.  The Jewish guy insists on keeping the Christmas tree.  Okay.  I'd deal with it. 

We unbound the branches and started decorating.  The sneezing was not unbearable.  Sure enough when I was awake at 4AM again (this time a rebound from the glass of chianti I had at dinner - serves me right for drinking on a "school night") I lay there in bed for a while trying to sleep again, and soon the runny nose began to creep up on me. Next thing I knew I was running for tissues every few minutes until I finally fell asleep again.  Once I was up, I was sneezing all morning.

So is this my fate for the rest of the month?  Am I going to suffer sleepless, sneezy, nights?  Will I spend the holiday season stoned on Benadryl?  I can't take the tree down now.  It's all decorated.  I bought a Christmas tree to brighten my home and now I want to spend as little time at home as possible. 

I have never been prone to seasonal allergies.  In the spring I can tiptoe through the tulips with a clear eyes and clear sinuses.  If you cut the grass, I'll stand in your yard and enjoy the smell. I have had real Christmas trees at home for most of my life and they never bothered me.   I laugh in the face of flora. 

There seems to be more about this tree than meets my itchy, watery, eyes.  I noticed when I handled it that it's very sticky and sappy.  It's also sort of dirty.  My hands were gray after decorating it.  I checked out some health websites about what to do for tree allergies and they suggest hosing down the tree before taking it inside.  It's too late for me to do that now, but I couldn't have done it anway as I have no garden hose or yard.  All I have now is drugs and hope.  Maybe I will eventually get used to whatever is on that tree that is bothering me and build up an immunity.

I have serious doubts about buying a tree next year. All I know is it's going to be a long December.

UPDATE:  I started this blog 3 days ago. Since then symptoms have abated somewhat.  The endless sniffles have gone.  I do still suffer from itchy eyes.  Last night I went to add some water to the beast's stand and had to move some branches out of the way to do so.  I didn't feel too great after that.  I definitely feel a change in the atmosphere when I come home.  The tree isn't trying to kill me - at least not for now.  I still think it's lying in wait, hoping to make its move as soon as I get too comfortable.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why "Happy Holidays" Matters

I remember a day about fifteen years ago when I opened my mailbox and discovered I had a Christmas card from a couple in my theater group.  It gave me all kinds of warm fuzzies to see they had decided to include me on their holiday card list after all of the years they had known me. I happily opened up the card. 

I received a bit of a surprise when I pulled it from the envelope.  The front of the card said something like, "Celebrate the Festival of Lights."  Opening up the card I read sentiments on the deep meanings of Hanukkah, wishing me the happiest Hanukkah ever.

I had some truly mixed feelings once I read the card.  I was still pleased with the fact that my friends had sent me a card.  I was gracious enough to accept the gesture of good will.  I was not terribly pleased that they were wishing me a happy Hanukkah when Hanukkah was not a holiday I celebrated nor was it one I had ever celebrated.  It smarted a little that people who had known me since I was a teen had assumed what my religious background was and had never even bothered to inquire (if they had, I suppose they would have found out quickly that my background was the same as theirs - Catholic - and that a Christmas card would have been appropriate). 

For my entire I have been mistaken for being Jewish.  I have a Germanic last name, and Germanic countries are often associated with Judaism in an area heavily populated with Jews.  I have an Old-Testament first name, which is also often associated with Judaism.  I have dark, Mediterranean features.  It's pretty easy to assume I'm Jewish given the surface evidence.  However, if you dig beneath the surface and actually ask me what my background is, you'll learn the facts.  My last name is the legacy of my Swiss grandfather (about .2% of Switzerland's population is Jewish so it's hard to use that ethnicity as proof).  My physical appearance is the result of having two Italian grandmothers.  My parents just liked the name Rachel.  To complicate things further, my husband is Jewish.  It's easy for his friends, family, and acquaintances to assume that he would marry within the tribe. Most of the time the confusion hasn't caused anyone any serious embarrassment. Occasionally I'll mention in a group that people always think I'm Jewish and that often produces a chorus of, "You're not?" I can't escape the assumptions and it usually doesn't mean anything.

Coming from a Christian background and being mistaken for Jewish does give me a unique perspective on this whole "War on Christmas" crap.  The current justification for saying, "Merry Christmas" among Christians is that they are simply wishing you well and that you should take that for what it's worth.  To a certain extent I agree.  We should appreciate when someone is simply giving us a greeting of joy on a holiday regardless of whether or not we celebrate it.  That being said, unless you are on the receiving end of a holiday greeting for a holiday you don't celebrate, you will never understand just how weird it feels.  I read a very funny quote from a Jewish guy years ago who said being wished "Merry Christmas" is like being wished, "Happy Birthday," when it's someone else's birthday. 

When someone wishes me, "Happy Hanukkah," my first thought isn't, "How nice of you to say that."  It's, "I'm not Jewish.  I don't celebrate Hanukkah.  Don't assume things about me.  I don't want you to feel bad that you wasted a holiday wish on someone who won't be lighting candles tonight."  Why should wishing "Merry Christmas" to a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Pagan feel any less strange to them?  Christians will never get this.  If I said to a Christian, "Happy Saturnalia," how would they really feel about it?  What if I really were a devout practitioner of Solstice celebrations and truly wanted that Christian to have a good December 21st?  Would that feel any better to them or would they angrily respond, "I'm a CHRISTIAN"?

Sometimes I have this sense of not wanting to hurt people's feelings.  One September Friday a Jewish colleague wished me a Happy New Year (see, it's not just about Christmas) and I sheepishly wished her a Happy New Year in return.  I'm sure she believed, as everyone else does, that I'm Jewish and was speaking on the assumption that I would be celebrating Rosh Hoshanna. While I appreciated the sentiment, I only celebrate New Year's Day once a year and I'm afraid that's in January.  I didn't want to embarrass her by telling her that. I also wondered if I were somehow unworthy of the sentiment. I felt fake.  I felt like a fraud.  If I said to her, "I'm not Jewish," would she say, "Fine.  I take it back"? 

The War on Christmas paranoiacs love to quote Ben Stein on the topic.  That's fine that Ben Stein isn't offended by people wishing him "Merry Christmas."  I also don't think he speaks for all Jews. I think he has his lips permanently affixed to the butt cheeks of the religious right because he wants to maintain political ties with them.  It also makes me wonder if this whole "War on Christmas" is more political than religious.  We have a vocal group of Christians in this country who want the lion's share of political power and want to take over the government as much as possible.  They are using Christmas and Christmas displays as a way of wedging their religion into the public sphere under the name of religious freedom.  Very few non-Christians are offended at a Christmas display in a private home, a church, or private club.  The issue is that such religious displays should not be on government-owned, publicly-funded areas such as schools, public parks, and government offices.  This implies the government is sponsoring a particular religion and government sponsored religion is in direct conflict with the Constitution.  The War on Christmas crowd refuses to believe that.  They claim any objection to removing the trappings of one particular relgion from the public sphere means an all-out assault on their religion and the removal of their rights to celebrate the holiday.

When Kevin and I used to send out Christmas cards, we sent generic, happy holidays/seasons greetings cards to everyone.  We have a mix of friends and family who range in religious beliefs from Jewish to super-Catholic.  Rather than have to nitpick over who gets what cards, we sent cards that conveyed our love and goodwill no matter what specific holiday they celebrated.  We still received Hanukkah cards in return.  We also received Christmas cards.  Some of those Christmas cards have been so blatantly Christian in sentiment that I found myself cringing on Kevin's behalf.  We made an effort to send our well wishes no matter what the religion, but it seemed that family wasn't willing to give us the same respect.  I sometimes wondered if friends and family weren't trying to convert Kevin and bring me back into the fold.  I'll admit that I was less offended by Hanukkah cards.  That's partially because they usually came from Kevin's Jewish friends and family and also because Christianity is rooted in Old Testament traditions.  Christian beliefs are diametrically opposed to Judaism and to me it seems very insensitive to push Jesus on someone whose religion does not acknowledge Him as God.

Do people realize just how insensitive it is to bestow holiday wishes on someone who doesn't celebrate that holiday?  Maybe the other person doesn't mind, but why do you want so badly to risk offending someone who does mind? 

If my friends had just sent a generic "Seasons Greetings" card fifteen years ago, I would never have felt conflicted.

This brings me to the question I ask every year:  If a non-Christian is not allowed to be offended if you assume they are Christian and wish them, "Merry Christmas," then why is it you are allowed to be offended if someone who doesn't know you are Christian wishes you "Happy Holidays"?  What if someone knows you're Christian, but spends time around non-Christians, and says, "Happy Holidays" out of habit?  Why are you allowed to whip yourself into a frenzy because they didn't say "Merry Christmas"?

Let's get a few things straight:

When others wish you "Happy Holidays", they are not doing so because they hate you.

When others wish you "Happy Holidays", they are not deliberately disrespecting your religion.

When others wish you "Happy Holidays", they are not telling you that you personally can't celebrate Christmas.

When others wish you "Happy Holidays", they are not trying to outlaw your religion.

Chances are saying, "Happy Holidays" is just their way of showing respect.  If they don't know someone's religious observances, they aren't going to assume what those beliefs are and thus give you a generic wish of good will. 

If a business hangs a "Happy Holidays" sign in the window, it's likely because the owners want to be inclusive and make money off of all customers.  It's also more cost effective to hang a single sign that says, "Happy Holidays" than it is to hang a sign that says, "Happy Thanksgiving," a sign that says, "Merry Christmas," a sign that says, "Happy Hanukkah," and a sign that says, "Happy New Year." 

Why is this so hard to understand?  "Happy Holidays" isn't hate speech.  It's a way to be inclusive. 

So my biggest Christmas wish continues.  Can we please end this ridiculous, "War on Christmas" paranoia already?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Through Others' Eyes

I have decided that if my FB status is going to be super-long, I should just make it into a short blog.  That way I don't lose my blogging mojo.

Tonight I'm going to be seeing the Juilard String Quartet at the Emelin Theater with Kevin's sister-in-law.  It's something I might not have considered doing before.  I rarely ever pay attention to what's playing at the Emelin unless it's an act I'm dying to see (e.g. Dar Williams, the Wailin' Jennys). 

Ever since Kevin's family relocated to Mamaroneck, I feel as if I'm seeing my town through new eyes. 

Kevin and I like living in Mamaroneck.   We think the town has a lot to offer. Unfortunately we're so busy with work and horses and so many activities that take place out of town that we often ignore what's under our noses.  That is slowly changing.

I see how my SIL and nephew seem so happy in their new home.  They genuinely like the town.  SIL asks me often about the happenings in town.  What are the concerts and the plays?  Where do I shop? What are the best restaurants? (I have made a point to introduce her to DeCicco's and Siren Boutique.)  It can't be easy for them to be newcomers to a new town where they don't know anyone besdies Kevin and me.  It makes sense that they would be looking for as many activities as possible.  It has to be particularly hard for my SIL who is left alone while my nephew is at school and goes out more as he makes new friends.  I'm so happy that they are finding ways to stay occupied and enjoy themselves while they are here.

This is really turning out to be an advantage for me.  In helping them find their way around I am becoming better acquainted with my town.  I'm seeing things in a new way.  I'm doing things I hadn't done before.  I'm exploring my community more.  Tonight it's the Juliard String Quartet.  It looks like I'll be taking the other niece and nephew to see Nut/Cracked, a ballet spoof, at the Emelin in a couple of weeks.  By seeing where I live through someone else's eyes, I'm seeing it in a new way through my own eyes. 

I would encourage everyone to take a second look at where they live and see what it has to offer.  You never know what you might discover.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

No You're Not All Like That, But You Can't Prove It At the Polls

Before I start the main point of my post, I have some observations regarding the outcome of the election.

I had really thought that if Obama were re-elected I would be consumed with schadenfreude. I was looking forward to relishing the wringing of hands, the gnashing of teeth, the clutching of pearls, and the rending of garments from the other side.

Rather than wanting to gloat, I feel surprisingly sympathetic. I’ve been pretty political for most of my life and I know what it’s like to lose an election. Certainly reasonable Republicans are allowed to mourn without a bunch of Democrats screaming, “Ha ha. I told you so.”

The rest of you need to stop your whining.

I’m really annoyed at Republican drama queens. “Oh dear! How will I survive the next four years?” Survive? Really? You are still alive after the last four years. The President of the United States hasn’t put a price on your head. You’re alive, breathing, and if you’re on the internet, have a minimum of shelter and access to a computer or smartphone.  You're not as bad off as you think you are.  Tell the homeless people who barely survived Hurricane Sandy how you're not going to survive the Obama presidency.

I am really tired of Republican princes and princesses complaining about how ruined everything is when they clearly have food, clothing, a home, and a job.  If you have not only the basics to live, but also have luxuries above and beyond that, and are clearly prospering, it's time to shut up.  That goes double for you, Donald Trump.  I am really tired of the stupidity of the Great Republican Myth that says that the government is some kind of Robin Hood, taking tax dollars from the prosperous middle class and giving it as "handouts" to lazy people who don't want to work.

Oh Princess, I hope you never have a close relative who becomes disabled, or a good friend who is a single mother after a divorce that leaves her with nothing, or an elderly parent, in need of a "handout."  Dear Prince, I hope you never find out just how many serious illnesses, or catastrophic accidents, or job losses will cause you to need a "handout" yourself.
 
Now that I have that off my chest, let's get down to my analysis of why Romney (and also McCain) lost the Presidency.

Stereotypes have long been a convenient way for humans to deal with each other.  Right or wrong, we will always seek out stereotypes as we relate to certain groups.  We will even employ confirmation bias to prove that stereotypes are at least partially correct.

Stereotyped groups may even see the perceived attributes of their group themselves, but they will often protest, "We're not all like that."  This goes for any group perceived to have too many negative attributes: Christians, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans, Men, Women, cat lovers, Star Trek fans, etc..  Any member of a given group is likely to prove that he or she does not fit the negative perceptions others have of that group.

Let's talk about Republicans for a minute.  What are the negative perceptions outsiders have of Republicans.

1. Fanatical devotion to laissez-faire, Randian, trickle-down economics.  They believe that all regulations have to be removed.  No taxes should be paid.  As long as those at the top prosper, they will always provide jobs for people willing to work and wages will be fair.  Government regulations and taxes are the reason why there are no jobs and no good wages, not greed.

2. They are Christian and believe only Christians are good moral people, even if they don't state it outright.  There is a desire for Christian dominionism.

3.  A belief that other countries need to handle their political, economic and military matters according to US wishes.  If they do not comply, US military force should be applied.

4.  Disdain and disgust for poor people.  If they are poor, it is because they are lazy. They might even imply the poor are not Christian enough since God supposedly rewards the righteous with wealth.  All programs to help the poor - even children, the elderly, and the disabled - even though everyone pays into them and everyone is entitled to them - should be abolished because they are the road to communism.  The poor are not Republicans' problem.  Get a job.

5.  Disdain for science, particularly biology and climatology.  No matter how much research is out there, all scientific fact is liberally biased or just plain Satanic.

6.  Women are not allowed self determination.  Republicans refuse to acknowledge that women's reproductive issues are both a public health and an economic issue.  Women are not allowed to control their reproduction, thus making sure that motherhood is the only trajectory their lives can take.  If a woman does not want children, she should not have sex.

7.   Those who desire clean air, clean water, and sustainable resources only do so because they want to destroy business and the economy.  To advocate on behalf of conservation is not to care about public health, or the future of the planet, but to advocate communism.

"But we're not all like that," shout Republicans.

Well, of course you're not all like that (even though Facebook can make it seem that way).  The problem is you let your politicians get away with treating you as if you're all like that.

In the last two presidential primaries I saw the same thing happen both times.  The race started with a field of candidates who embodied every point made above, with one or two more moderate choices.  One by one the extremists were picked off.  Americans proved over and over again that we don't like extremism.  The strong opposition to Rick Perry's dominionist and homophobic campaign ads is proof of that.  In 2008 Republicans picked John McCain, a Republican so moderate that it was rumored John Kerry considered him for a running mate in 2004, and who co-authored a campaign finance reform bill with the liberal Russ Feingold.  In 2012 they went with Mitt Romney, once the governor of the very liberal Massachusetts who isn't even Christian.  One would think Republican politicians would get the picture that some issues should be negotiable.

What did McCain and Romney do?  They picked extremist running mates.  They became the kind of candidates who would proudly embrace every point I made above.  Rather than listen to the majority of people who put them into the campaign, they began to listen to the disappointed extremists.  Soon the candidates ceased to seem moderate and began to adopt that hard line. 

The people who shout the loudest are not always the largest group - they just happen to shout the loudest.  The candidates kept trying to please them to the exclusion of those who might take other positions.  Not only do the hard line positions themselves turn people off, but it also turns voters off when you start taking new positions.  You come off looking like a flip-flopper. 

I'm not sure why I would give advice to Republicans, but I'm going to give my advice for 2016 anyway.  If you want to win, stop pandering to just one group.  Stop assuming all Republicans walk in lockstep with all positions.  Realize your party has as much diversity as the Democrats.  If you don't want to follow my advice, then I'll look forward to our next Democratic POTUS and I'll thank you for making it easy for me.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Yes, Chris Christie Is Still a Republican

Believe it or not, I'm cool with that. 

To say I'm not a fan of the man would be an understatement.  I abhor fat-shaming and yet I have often referred to him as "Governor Fatslob" with glee.  In general my opinion of him is not much higher than it is of most politicians of his ilk.  Nonetheless, he is who he is.  He's allowed to be the kind of politician he wants to be and if the people of New Jersey want to have him in office, it's not really my problem.

Whatever I have thought of him in the past, I commend him for the job he is doing regarding Hurricane Sandy.  He's a lifelong Jersey Boy and it shows.  He is trying very hard to restore his beloved state.
Restoring his state unfortunately includes reaching out to President Obama in order to receive FEMA assistance.  Boy did that seem to open up a can of worms in the Republican party!

The president made a visit to NJ.  Christie welcomed him, toured the disaster areas with him, and discussed relief options.  They worked together civilly and cooperated well.  Christie praised his concern and his efforts.

Now the right wing pundits are coming out in full force.  They have accused Christie of sleeping with the enemy.  They have accused Obama of not actually doing anything.  They are making all kinds of excuses for why Christie would do such a thing.  They even seem to think he's moving to the other side.  He has gone from Romney's chief spokesman to Obama supporter.

What I find particularly amusing is that Romney is now publicly making statements about how Christie was almost his veep candidate.  He reminds us over and over again that Christie was a top choice.  Some liberal pundits are saying this is an apology for Ryan, but to me it seems like an appeal to Christie.  He's begging Christie not to desert him.

This is becoming beyond ridiculous.  Christie put partisan politics aside for the good of his constituents.  While the President of the United States was visiting his state, Christie gave the respect due to the office of the President of the United States.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Christie is still who he is.  He's still a Republican.  Now the rest of you Republicans please unknot your panties!  What has the world come to that when a politician does the right thing and does his job well, that it's now considered a bad move?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why I Don't Vote Third Party

Let's be frank.  I don't like Obama all that much.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't dislike the man personally. I never met him.  He seems like a good guy - a great family man with an upbeat and positive personality.  He's also quite a tasty crumpet whom I would not kick out of bed for eating crackers. 

Politically, I was always pretty lukewarm about him.  I did not support him in the primaries.  My choices for President were true liberals like Dennis Kucinich or a pre-scandal John Edwards (while we're at it, I'd love to see Howard Dean jump back in the race and if Russ Feingold ever runs for President, I will back him all the way).  When the primaries hit NY and it was down to Obama or Senator Clinton, it was Clinton who had my vote.  Yes, he has had some impressive accomplishments in the past four years, but aside from a few social policies, he's not a true liberal.  This treehugger shivered with disgust at the schmenke-off between Obama and Romney over who was drilling for more oil ("My oilwell is bigger than your oilwell!").  He is also just as buffeted by corporate interests as GW Bush was.

So why vote for him?

To start off, I support underdogs.  The fact that he has been so heavily pilloried by the Republicans just makes me want to anger them by voting for him. They deserve to lose just for being so obnoxious, mean, derogatory, racist, and slandering.  Republicans are just so hateful I want Obama to win just to piss them off. (Just kidding - sort of.)

I think we would be far worse off with a Republican President of course, but there are plenty of Americans out there who would remind me that there are other options.  I shouldn't have to pick the lesser of two evils.

Every time I go to the ballot I see a dizzying array of political parties to choose from: Democratic, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, Right to Life, Working Families, Green - the list goes on.  Some of them put up the same candidate and some are candidates I have never heard of (which I know is the corporate media's fault, blah blah blah).  If Obama and Romney can't make me happy, why not choose someone else?

Let's take a look at the reasons why I don't choose outside the major parties.

First, there are too many parties out there that are single-issue.  Right to Life?  Green?  What if one of those candidates won?  Do they understand that governing takes more than just dedication to a single issue?  Do they realize that being a member of the government means that you have to serve all of your constituents and not just the ones that agree with you on a certain issue?  I don't like single-issue voters, so I sure am not going to vote for a single-issue candidate.

Remember the gubernatorial candidacy of Howard Stern several years ago?  His goal, if elected, was to push through exactly three pieces of legislation before stepping down and letting his lieutenant governor take over.  Was he planning to devote all of his time and energy to three pieces of legislation and let everything else languish while he did this? Would someone else be doing the work he should be doing?  Does that mean my tax dollars would effectively be paying for two governors?  I would not want to waste my vote on a three-issue candidate even if he wasn't planning to stay in office.  What if it took four or more years to accomplish the legislation he was after? 

The other major reason why I don't want to vote third part is simple math.  The more candidates you introduce into a race, the less likely you are to have your government elected by a majority.  All you need is just one more candidate in the race and the next thing you know, someone could be elected with just 34% of the vote.  Should this nation be served by someone whom nearly 70% of the country didn't want? 

I'm not all that happy with third party candidates either.  Back in 2000 I was not going to support Ralph Nader.  Do I like Ralph Nader?  Yes.  Do I think he supports the right causes?  Certainly.  Do I think he's qualified to be President?  Not at all!  He is very good at what he does.  Being a consumer advocate means taking a hard line and fighting for one side.  Being a politician requires an ability to compromise and make deals.  Being President also requires extensive knowledge of foreign policy, economics, and constitutional law. Ralph Nader was eminently unqualified for the office.

What I found ridiculous about the whole candidacy was that people were voting for him not because of his qualifications, but because he was third party.  They were voting for him to make some kind of statement.  Many Nader voters were self-professed libertarians.  That makes me laugh hysterically.  There is nothing libertarian about Ralph Nader. He has dedicated his life to regulations and rules.  In the libertarian rule it's all about free markets and caveat emptor.  Safety and quality is not the government's concern.  He was also running on the Green Party ticket.  A true libertarian isn't going to support environmental regulations either. 

So it continues today that many third-party voters are self-professed libertarians.  That term is a morass of beliefs as it is.  Most people who declare themselves libertarian are usually very liberal or very conservative with their beliefs, but have one or two positions that lie outside the norm (hence my joke that libertarians are just "Republicans who want to do drugs").  To declare yourself libertarian sounds nicely anti-establishment.  If you're calling yourself conservative, you run the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, religious nutjob.  If you're calling yourself liberal, you run the risk of being perceived as a hippie on welfare.  Besides, not all of your beliefs fall in with the liberal or conservative party line (do anyone's?) so it's better to say you're something else, right?

Who are the third-party candidates these people gravitate to?  There are the likes of Ron Paul (who seems to turn up like a bad penny whether Republicans want him or not) and Gary Johnson.  On the surface their positions can seem quite reasonable.  They want to end foreign military intervention (Yay! I can get behind that). They want to legalize all drugs (I'm pretty skeptical on that).  They want want complete corporate deregulation (I can't get behind that at all).  Libertarian darling Ron Paul seems to support the idea that liberty (as he defines it) is a privilege of white, male property owners.  It makes sense that so many of his supporters are young, white, straight men - they have little to lose under such a government.

Economic libertarianism looks great on paper, but has about as little proof of effectiveness as bloodletting for a disease cure.  Supporters of third-party candidates look at Atlas Shrugged as some kind of historical fact, yet are willfully ignorant of the real history of the Gilded Age and the Great Depression and how America fared under totally unregulated markets.  I would bet that most of us reading this right now would not be living our comfortable, middle-class lives if we lived in the 19th century.  History has shown us again and again that government spending and programs have been vital to the development of the middle class (e.g. public education, minimum wage, the GI Bill.)  I have no desire to vote for someone who wants to take this country further into economic disparity. 

I do digress a bit much.  I suppose I should have just summed it up that third parties really aren't that much better than what we have now.  They may have points I agree with, but then again, so do the existing parties.

Let's get back on point with the political parties that do exist?  Should this country only have two political parties?  If I don't feel the Democratic candidates (or recently offered third parties) properly represent me, then why don't I find one that does? What if this new party were capable of gaining power?

There are over 30 countries around the world that use runoff elections.  This allows multiple parties to be voted on, gradually eliminating the outliers, and finally narrowing the field to two candidates. I like this idea.  This would allow multiple voices to be heard and yet still make the ultimate decision be between two candidates, thus allowing a majority election. I could get behind a system like that.

Then I realized that we already do have such a system.  It's called primaries.  We start with a large field of candidates, people vote for their favorites, and the last person standing makes it to the final round.  It's not a bad system when you think about it.

The problem is we run up against the issue that too many Americans have such contempt for political parties, that they claim independence and make themselves ineligible for the primaries.  Then we're all back to Square 1, complaining about the lesser of two evils. 

Political parties are what they are because of the people who are willing to get involved with them.  Those that don't claim party independence, those that sit out part of the election process, hand over the political parties to those who do participate.  Are political parties stagnant?  Will they always be what they are now? 

Let's think about this for a minute.  The Republican Party today isn't the party of Lincoln.  It's not the party of Teddy Roosevelt.  It's not even the party of Eisenhower.  Just like today's Democratic Party is no longer the party of white southern racists.  The direction a political party takes has a lot to do with who gets involved.  These things can be changed from within.  It means Americans have to put aside their prejudices and be willing to do so.

I have one final reason why I won't vote third party.  The Supreme Court is at stake here. Three justices are likely to retire in the next four years.  If you know your third party candidate doesn't stand a chance of winning, are you willing to take the risk that three new justices could potentially take the country in a whole new direction?  I'm certainly not. I'll take the risk and cast my vote for the candidate who may not always make me happy, but will at least do this much for the country's future.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't be against other political parties someday coming to power in this country.  I just want to know that in the end, there are still just two candidates on the ballot and we still have the rule of majority.  I do not want to be served on behalf of the 34%.

Irksome Facebook Post of the Week

It's baaaaaccccccck!  To think I was able to read FB for weeks without feeling the need to call out someone's irksome meme.  This week  find myself unable to help myself.

What I'm going to say today is going to shock and anger a lot of people.  I'm going to be accused of being hostile to your religion and that I'm "bashing" you.  (Well, at least I would if anyone actually read this blog.)  So be it.  I just can't get over this.
 

Photo: The remains of what was once Far Rockaway, Queens, NY. The destruction is devestating

Look everyone.  We have a gen-u-ine miracle on our hands.  Someone's entire house was demolished.  He lost his most important possesion, his biggest investment, his source of shelter.  But that's okay.  His Mary-On-The-Half-Shell survived.

Is considering this to be some kind of joyous miracle some kind of joke?

That Mary-On-The-Half-Shell isn't going to rebuild the house.  It's not going to feed the family.  It's something to pray to, and I'm sure that's exactly what you want to do.  Let's pray to a God that saw fit to destroy your house and leave nothing but a Mary-On-The-Half-Shell.  The shell is only big enough to fit a statue of Mary.  The owners of the house will have to spend the next year living in a FEMA trailer.  It will take time, money, and insurance red tape to replace a house.  Had the house stood and statue fallen, the owner could have gone to a garden center and bought a new Mary-On-The-Half-Shell for fifty bucks.

Thanks God for taking my house away and giving me the miracle of an intact Mary-On-The-Half-Shell. Clearly this is proof You exist and love me.

To me it's as silly as the "miracle" of the WTC "cross".  God allowed thousands of people to die on 9/11, but we should all be grateful that He left behind a pair of crisscrossing steel beams.  Constantly seeing any two items in the shape of a cross as automatically holy seems like some kind of religious Freudianism.  Just as any long, thin, item is a phallic symbol in Freud's world, so two crisscrossed items become an automatic symbol of Jesus and have holy power.

I thought the 10 Commandments said that you are not supposed to make graven images.  Statues of saints and Mary and crucifixes with Jesus on them seem to be part of some cosmic loophole in that rule.  It seems as long as they depict the right graven images, it's okay.  They are still imbued with some holy power.  This is despite the likely inaccuracy of the images.  No one really knows what Mary or Jesus looked like.  Chances are pretty good that most traditional iconography got it wrong although Western Christians often don't like to admit that.

I know for religious people this gives some kind of hope and comfort, but I think the mental energy spent venerating photos like this is wasted.  Just as the surviving Mary-On-The-Half -Shell isn't going to do much benefit to the owner of this house, neither will venerating it on Facebook.  How about making a donation to the Red Cross instead? Give the people who lost everything some real help.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Time To Get Out of the Pumpkin Patch!

In the classic Peanuts cartoon, which all members of Generation X look forward every October, It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, we see a deluded young Linus, sitting in a pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to bestow gifts upon him.

The other kids in the neighborhood are not so deluded.  They are all out trick-or-treating (am I the only one who hates the use of  "trick-or-treat" as a verb?). We can assume that just about every house in the neighborhood participates.  The kids are collecting quite a bit of stuff (except for poor Charlie Brown).

Trick-or-treating is a great system.  Everyone in the neighborhood contributes something.  Even people without kids are likely to hand out candy.  Every kid in the neighborhood is then able to partake.  Sure there are some people who may not be able to afford candy for the neighborhood, but their kids are allowed to share the festivities.  Maybe they can afford candy next year.  When their kids grow up they might very well have the money for neighborhood candy.  Sometimes a home might run out, leaving nothing but that rock for Charlie Brown.  Even though Linus is wasting his time in the pumpkin patch, I'm sure Mr. and Mrs. Van Pelt have provided candy for the neighborhood.  After all, Lucy and Rerun are participating.  

I find myself drawing a parallel between Linus and his belief that something bigger and better is coming from the Great Pumpkin to Republicans who believe in trickle-down economics.  We have a system in place that everyone contributes in some way, or will contribute to in the future.  Everyone is entitled to the benefits.  We have a system that pays for roads and emergency services, for schools and aid to those who can't provide for themselves.  They resent that system.  They believe they shouldn't pay into it. As far as they're concerned, Charlie Brown deserves all of those rocks for not being able to properly cut eye holes in his costume.   Rather than understanding a system that benefits society, they believe that as long as those at the top are making money, like the Great Pumpkin flying over the pumpkin patches, they will receive something bigger and better. 

Linus believes that if the pumpkin patch is sincere enough, he will reap those immense benefits.  Isn't that just like the Right?  Just cut taxes more.  Just pray more and prove how Christian you are.  Just elect more Republicans.  Just deregulate more.  As soon as you do that, the wealth will reach us.  No matter how much history has proven this wrong (The Gilded Age and the Great Depression),  no matter how many more jobs are cut and moved overseas, no matter how much the gap between the rich and the poor increases, they still believe that they have something more coming.  They just keep waiting, keep hoping their pumpkin patches are sincere enough, and keep seeing schools and infrastructure crumble while they wait for some big payoff. 

It's time to get out of the pumpkin patch and start enjoying the benefits of trick-or-treating.  Everyone in the neighborhood will benefit - including you!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Something I Really Don't Get

I have begun to notice a pattern among people who complain nonstop about Obama "ruining the economy" with his "socialist" policies.

If the economy is in ruins, it doesn't seem these Republicans are suffering much from it.  I hear these complaints from people who seem to be doing quite well.  People who own nice houses.  People who can afford children and give them rather nice clothes and plenty of extra-curricular activities.  People who own all kinds of technology.  Families who have one parent staying home with the kids on a seemingly permanent basis.  Families who can afford multiple horses or expensive cars. 

They have all of this despite these supposedly crippling socialist policies that the president himself has put in place, apparently without the help of Congress.  How much they must be suffering!  Tell me again just how poor you are.  Remind me of how all of those handouts to people who are clearly lazy and undeserving.  How can you buy your kids the latest video games and designer clothing if those horrid poor people have the nerve to want to feed their children when they're out of work?  The nerve of them! 

What will happen if Obama is re-elected?  Will you have to cancel your plans to upgrade your Range Rover to an Escalade?  Will you have to send your kids to a second-tier school instead of Ivy League?  Maybe you'll have to settle for a trip to Hawaii instead of Bora Bora.  Oh the horror!

I'm sure if Romney is elected, you will never have to pay another dime of taxes again.  Poor people will stop having children.  Maybe they will all die off because they have no health care and you won't have to take care of them anymore.  You will have so much more than you already have, because you have suffered so much in the past four years. 

If you are a single mother working three jobs to make ends meet after losing a better-paying job five years ago and you really don't see a way out, I can understand where the rage against Obama would come.  If you had hoped for change and received none, then it would make sense to seriously contemplate what someone else can do for you.

If you're still enjoying a very comfortable middle-class, or upper-middle-class existence I'm not sure what you're complaining about.  You're worried about money?  Well, welcome to the human condition!  Glad you join the rest of us.

If you're just as successful and healthy under Obama as you were under Bush, then it's time to shut up.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Style 101 - Dressed to the Nines

Most looks I've been posting since I started this series have been about casual/fun looks.  What do I do when I really want to dress up?  What do I do for a night out?

Obviously I go heavy and I have a lot of fun.


Here are the starring players: liquid foundation, concealer, eyeshadow base, plum eyeshadow quad, blush lipstick, liquid eyeliner, mascara, and powder.

I like my mineral foundation, but if I'm really going all-out with makeup, I like the extra coverage of liquid foundation.  Lancome Teinte Miracle is a favorite of mine.  It truly does make your skin look lit from within.  Worth the hefty price tag.

I prep my skin with serum after cleansing and moisturizing.  I start with concealer, blending with a sponge and also use a sponge to blend the foundation.

Eyeshadow base goes on the lids.  It smooths out the color and gives the shadow more staying power and keeps it from smudging too much.

I use all four shadows in the quad.  It's a little hard to see, but this one contains a white highlighter, pale sparkly lavender, a medium plum, and a dark plum.  I place the lightest shade under the eyebrow and bring it down all over the lid area, taking it around the tear ducts. The lighter plum goes on the lid and up into the crease.  The dark plum goes from the outer corner of the lid and the outer edge of the crease.  I don't wing it or cat-eye it.  My eyes are very round and trying to extend color outside the lid area just looks weird.  As a final touch I put just a little of the pale lavender in the middle of the lid.

I put a very careful dark gray line on the upper and lower lids with the liquid liner.  Don't use liquid liner for the first time the day you intend to wear it out of the house.  It takes a steady hand.  Practice first.

I finish the eyes with a coat of mascara.  Years ago I could get away without it because I have very thick lashes, but they're not what they use to be and they now get lost in the rest of the eye makeup.  A light coat keeps them from disappearing.

Blush is a nice neutral pink and lightly applied.  With so much eye focus, the cheeks have to stay in the background or we'll be veering into clown territory.

I would normally keep lipstick fairly neutral for the same reason you want to keep blush toned down.  However, the day I was photographing this look, I was wearing a red dress, so I couldn't let my lipstick clash.  I put on a blue-undertoned red (yellows and oranges don't really work in my wardrobe or on my skin tone) very lightly and then topped it with a clear gloss.  With a different outfit I might stick to a dark mauve.

Finish the whole thing with powder and I'm good to go.

I took photos for a post about a sun-kissed summer look and never got around to posting it.  Not really a good time to post that sort of thing anymore.  That will have to wait until next summer.  I plan to do posts on the business look as well as how I do a traditional smoky eye.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Open Letter to Americans Who Believe This Is a Christian Nation

Dear People Who Believe America Is a Christian Nation,

I've been thinking long and hard about what it must mean to you to be a Christian Nation, and I'm still very confused.  What exactly do you mean by "Christian Nation"?  How do you define it?  How should Christianity be expressed and enforced?

Is it that you believe our leaders should be Christian?  This is diametrically opposed to the Constitution which states that there will be no religious tests for elected officials.  Besides, Christians come in many flavors.  Jimmy Carter proudly calls himself a born-again Christian, and yet it seems he is universally loathed by the Religious Right.  George W. Bush calls himself a born-again Christian as well. Would both of them be considered a proper leader of a Christian Nation? Is there a certain mold of Christianity that you require in your public servants?  Do you honestly believe that only a Christian is the right person for the job?

Anyway, if you believe this is a Christian Nation, why did you vote for a Mormon?  I learned in a Christian church that Mormons were a dangerous cult that mocked and perverted Christian teachings.

"We want Christian principles!" Is the reply.  Again, which Christian principles?  Christian principles are split into many ideologies.  Do you want your principles to come from Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Doug Philips, Dinesh D'Souza, Tony Perkins, James Dobson, or Bill Gothard?  Perhaps you would prefer the Christian principles of Martin Luther King Jr, William Sloane Coffin, Desmond Tutu, Barry Lynn or the founders of the Clergy Letter Project? What about Catholics?  Are Catholics the right kind of Christian or aren't they?

What Christian principles do you value most?  Do you believe that Christian principles are about the Ten Commandments and that we need Christianity to avoid crimes like theft and murder and lying.  Guess what?  All major religions, and even atheists, condemn crimes like theft and murder.  Respect for others are also at the core beliefs of most religions.  Do you think Christianity is the only force stopping all humans from going on a murder spree?  Even atheists believe in The Golden Rule.  Christianity doesn't have a monopoly on morality and respect.

Do you believe that there should be only one set of Christian principles across the board? Which ones?  Before you say, "All of them," remember that different Christians hold very different ideas of what Christian principles are.  Think long and hard about your own life and your own lifestyle.  What freedoms do you currently enjoy that might be considered sins by certain Christian groups?  Do you understand that drinking alcohol, dancing, having non-marital sex, or disobeying your husband are considered grievous sins by many Christian sects? Maybe you repent of those sins now, but do you believe it's your place to tell others that they can't commit those perceived sins? Do you believe it's up to the individual to make peace with God regarding their sins, or do you think the government needs to prevent them from sinning in the first place?

Once you have chosen that set of Christian standards how do you intend to enforce them?  Should Christian principles be law? Do we have one standard moral code across the entire country, according to one version of one religion? Should they be enforced by some kind of morals squad?

Such a culture already exists.  It's called The Taliban. Just because it's your religion that's being enforced doesn't mean such a culture is one you would wish to live in. Be careful what you wish for.

You can call the United States a Christian Nation because Christianity is the majority religion.  There is no doubt about that.  Should Christianity be enforced due to majority rule?  What exactly do you do with the other religions in the country?  I know George W. Bush once said that atheists should not be considered American citizens and don't deserve the same rights as religious Americans.  Should we force a conversion, or should all atheists just pack their bags?  Maybe they should be sent to prison or to some kind of re-education camps for not believing. How about they pay an "atheist tax"?  I know believers in a Christian nation do not think very highly of Islam.  I ask the same question.  Will Muslims be deported or just forced to convert in order to maintain Christian Nation status?  What about the Jews?  I assume Jews are allowed if the vote Republican and act as mainstream as possible (yarmulkes are forbidden and so is speaking Yiddish). How about Buddhists?  Pagans?  Satanists?  Santerians? Voodoo? Shintoists? You might not like their religions very much, but do they have a right to live in this country?

I'm serious.  Take a long look at what is to be done with the citizens who aren't Christian?  Do you force them to live by what you consider to be Christian values?  So many Christians talk of their fear that Muslims in this country will enforce Sharia law on everyone.  Why would American Muslims want to live under Christian law?  How would you like it if this were a Jewish nation?  Bacon is banned and you now need separate dishwashers for your meat and your dairy products.  Also your workweek starts on Sunday.  If you believe in the principle of "Do unto others..." then why would you want to impose your rules onto other religions when you would not want them doing that to you?

Do you have friends or relatives that aren't Christian?  Would you like to see them made miserable by a Christian rule?  Would you want them to leave the country because this is a Christian Nation?  If you're reading this and you are one of my friends or family members, how much do you like my husband and me?  I'm an unconventional humanist slightly irrational skeptic.  My husband is Jewish.  They would load us onto the boat first if non-Christians were being kicked out of the country.  Would you miss us?  Are we immoral?  Are we not nice people?  Do we commit crimes and torture puppies?  Do we deserve the same rights as any other American citizens?

Maybe we don't.  Maybe it really is time to ship off all non-believers and non-Christians off somewhere else. 

Let's let the Christians have the United States all to themselves.  You guys want this country back so badly?  Okay.  You can have it.  It's yours. Use your guns to run us all out.  Enjoy your happy little homogeneous society where everyone believes the same thing, where everyone has the exact same standard of behavior, and where no one has an original though that doesn't fall in line with the Christian code.   If you miss the rest of us, remember how much better the country is without the immoral non-Christians.  We won't be trying to take your religion from you.   We won't be telling you what you should believe.  We won't be interfering with your freedom of religion. Hang the Ten Commandments in front of every public building.  Never say "Happy Holidays" again.  Say a Christian prayer at every public event.  Remove science education from schools.  Go crazy.   Kick everyone else out and run the country exactly as you want it.

I'm sure that's what Jesus would have done. 

I hope you enjoy it.

Love,
Rachel

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Every Season

The end of summer always makes me cranky.  Summer is my favorite season and I resent the intrusion of fall.  I resent that people act like it's the greatest thing ever to see fall arrive.  There is almost this esoteric essence that people believe in about fall.  I don't really hate it, as I jokingly say I do, but I will continue to trumpet the reality that it isn't all it's cracked up to be.

But what of other seasons?  Do I like any other seasons?  Do I really hate fall?  Is summer really that perfect?

I decided to enumerate exactly what I love and hate about every season.  Which one is the best?  You decide.*

Summer

Since it's my favorite season, I thought I would start with it.

What I like about summer:

I like being able to undress.  I love wearing sundresses and shorts and tank tops and sandals with fun pedicures.  Maybe it's not the most flattering look on my chubby body, but since everyone else is undressed too, it's not a big deal.  We're all in the same boat.

I love that it's always warm enough to swim.  Yes, indoor pools exist so I can swim all year, but indoor pools have humid, swampy air, too much chlorine that stings your eyes even when you're not in the water, and unless you're at a very upscale resort or spa, are usually ugly and utilitarian.  No indoor pool will ever compare to plunging into the rolling ocean or crystal clear lake on a hot day.  I love the sensation of the water cooling my body and then coming out of the water to feel the sun gently warm me back up again. I love how the sun looks on the water - how it sparkles and shimmers - even when it's just dappling the surface of an ordinary swimming pool.  I remember one afternoon while swimming at the pool in my old apartment, I found myself repeatedly diving in just to experience how beautifully the sun was hitting the surface in one spot on my ascent to the air.  I could never live in a climate that's cool all year round because I need temperatures that are warm enough for outdoor swimming.

I love how relaxed the heat makes me feel.  In the summer heat I can sit quietly and feel my body just sort of melt into oblivion.

Summer is the time of happy occasions like my birthday and my annual trip to Chincoteague.  

What I don't like about summer

Bugs!  Creepy crawly critters of all kinds invade the barn.  Mosquitoes dominate in Chincoteague.  Summer is prime insect season.

Then there is humidity.  New York is not the deep south, so I know it's not the worst humidity in the world, but New York is humid much of the year.  In fact it rains a third of the year on average.  Summer is the worst of it though.  As a woman with naturally curly hair, it can mean an endless stream of bad hair days.

I will admit occasionally the weather is too hot even for my taste.  Two summers ago I remember the temps being consistently over 100 degrees for two weeks and it was torture being outside.  I was lucky enough to be in Chincoteague one of those weeks and had my beloved ocean to cool off in  Heat also makes the horses lethargic.

Fall 

What I like about fall

The colors are lovely.  When you're in a semi-rural area on weekends and see woods wherever you go, the sense of wonder and beauty can be overwhelming.  I love photograhing sunlight as it filters through multicolored leaves.

The cooler weather does make the horses more energetic.

What I don't like about fall

The traffic going is following me right to that rural area for all those leaf-peeping and apple-picking activities.  Sunday nights on the Tappan Zee Bridge are a nightmare.

It's dark.  I thrive in sunlight.  It seems once the equinox hits, the days grow shorter rapidly.  Once Daylight Saving Time ends, it's utterly dismal.  

It's cold.  Yes, there are some lovely cool-ish days where it's not too hot for outdoor activities, but it still warm enough that you don't feel cold, but they don't last that long. 

The month of November.  Really, is there anything redeeming about that month other than Thanksgiving (which is almost December anyway)?  The beautiful leaves have fallen.  Everything is dead.  Death and decay are all around you.  Days grow horribly short as Daylight Saving Time ends. Weather turns cold - even cold enough to snow sometimes.  I believe that most people who say they love fall really love September and October.  They don't really mean cold, dark, dead November.

Then there is the onslaught of pumpkin-flavored everything.  Gross!

Winter

There isn't much nice to say about winter, but I'll try.

What I like about winter

Winter starts with Christmas.  I love the winter holidays.  I love the (good) music.  I love the decor.  I love the gifts.  I love the gatherings with friends and family.  Yes, I know that Christmas happens all over the world, even where winter isn't very wintry, but I have that esoteric, Dickensian, White-Christmas kind of warm fuzzies from cold snowy winter holidays.  It's that sort of esoteric feeling people have about fall.  I used to go to Florida at Christmas time and seeing holiday lights on palm trees is just not the same.  It doesn't feel right.

Sometimes being snowed in can make for a pleasant day.  It gives me a day where I have no excuse but to do some housecleaning.  I catch up on my blog reading.  I do some heavy-duty baking. 

Watching snow fall out the window is extremely relaxing.

The days are short, but they are growing longer.  Once the end of January comes, I start to notice a light in the sky when I come home from work.  It's a much more hopeful feeling than than the dismal decline into darkness that is fall.

What I don't like about winter

I already covered the darkness thing with fall, but even as winter days grow longer, it's still pretty dark.

I really really really hate the cold.  That's my main reason for hating winter.  I firmly believe that anyone who says, "I'd rather be too cold than too hot," is either someone who has lived his life in a cold climate, is a ski buff, or truly doesn't know what it's like to be too cold.  How many non-skiers out there really know what it's like to be cold? Most of us spend very little time outdoors in the winter.  We run across the cold driveway to the cold garage to get into the warm car to drive to work. We get to work and have a cold sprint to the door.  Maybe we go outside and play with the kids for an hour in the snow. We don't have time to get cold.

I spend hours of the day out in the cold.  It's true that when you're active you warm up.  Unfortunately, when you stop being quite so active your body cools down and it cools down fast.  Once that happens, it's really hard to be warm again.  "Just add another layer," you say.  What happens when you eventually run out of layers but you still feel cold.  When I'm cold I can't relax.  In the heat I can sit or lie still and just go with it.  In the cold every muscle I have is tensed.  The worst is the extremities.  There is no torture quite like painfully cold hands and feet.  If you're trapped in this type of situation for any length of time, it's just unbearable.  You understand quite quickly that it's much more comfortable to be hot than to be cold. (As long as you have some form of shade of course.  Sunburn is no fun - but then again, neither is frostbite.)

Traveling is a pain.  Driving is no fun in snow and ice and I have to drive 140 miles each day most weekends.  Commuting to work can be really painful if cold causes train delays.  Waiting for the train in the cold in uncomfortable and then I get smooshed into a crowded train filled with two trainloads of commuters. 

Spring

What I like about spring

Once the equinox happens, the days are longer than the nights.  You start feeling and noticing the lengthening days. 

Life renews and rejuvenates itself.  Trees grow buds and flowers bloom.  The world starts to look pretty again.

I love those warm spring days that promise better weather ahead. 

What I hate about spring

I hate the disappointment of it.  I keep waiting and hoping for those warm, sunny, spring days, but they are often few and far between.  April and May are often just chilly and rainy.  Snow is not unheard of. Sometimes a week of beautiful days will come along and I'll think spring has finally arrived, only to have everything turn cold and rainy a week later. 

The horses start shedding.  It makes a terrible, hairy mess.

So there you have it.  That's why I can't live in a climate that's the same all year round.  It seems I do derive pleasure from the seasons.  I'm just going to have complaints about every season no matter what.


* Just kidding! I decide and you agree with me as it should be.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hair Apparent?

I remember a time when any little thought that came into my head was cause for a blog.  My old MySpace blog was updated almost daily.  Now it seems Shipwrecked & Comatose is more political rants than anything else.  I don't mean for that to happen really.   I suppose the more trivial stuff is best expressed in a few Facebook soundbites.  I don't want Facebook to kill my blog though.  I need the writing practice.

So today's trivial topic is hair.  I'm getting my hair cut in two days.  What should I do with it?

I haven't changed my hair much in the past two decades.  I have taken to wearing it long for a few reasons.  The first is that being a dramatic type I love the over-the-top look of my naturally big hair.  It makes a statement to have this cascade of raven ringlets.  It's also about practicality.  I need to be able to tie my hair back when I ride or work out (or I'm just having a bad hair day). I could go back to wearing my hair super-short, as I did in high school, but that requires a lot of maintenance (very regular haircuts).  Even short I would still have to deal with my hair being a frizzy poofball on humid days and I wouldn't be able to just slick it back.  (Super short is also dramatic though.)

For several years my preferred look was to wear bangs, blow them dry, and sweep them to the side.  The rest of my hair was mostly the same length.  This looked fine on good hair days, but when it was hot and humid, my bangs would sort of clump together in one big banana curl that hung down one side of my forehead.  I realized after a while the bangs would have to go.

I spent several more years doing long layers with a fairly sharp angle in the front.  My inspiration was Debra Messing, although I tended to think more of her in hear early, curly, Will and Grace years when asking for her cut.   Over time she began straightening her curls, and her style became less relevant to my hair.

At my last haircut, nearly a year ago, I decided I needed something new.  I searched for inspiration.  It came in an unlikely place.  I am not, and never was, a Sex in the City fan, but I happened to tune into it one dull afternoon while channel surfing.  I saw my inspiration right there.  Sarah Jessica Parker was sporting ringlets rather than a blowout that day.  Her hair was even brown rather than fake blonde or that weird, dark-rooted, half-blonde thing she often does.  The cut was perfect.

The problem was I couldn't find a picture of it.  Sarah Jessica Parker probably has more photos on the web than any other actress and yet no photo looked quite like the cut on that show.  I couldn't remember what the show was about, so I couldn't say, "I want the cut from the episode where SJP did so-and-so."  Even if I could, it wouldn't matter since my hair stylist never watched the show either.  I finally found a photo that was as close as it would come.



The hairdresser was shocked when I brought it in.  The cut was blunt and shoulder length. That's quite a change for me.  I wanted change.  I told her to go for it.  By the time my hair was cut and the curls had tightened up, my hair was actually above my shoulders.  It was quite a change, but I did like it, and received many compliments, so it wasn't a mistake.  I could still tie it back when I needed to.  After a few months I started to wonder if I wanted to cut it off again.  Should I stick with the shoulder-length cut?  If so, it was time for a haircut. 

Then along came Andie MacDowell.  She was my hair idol when I was in sporting the cropped look in high school.  I'd look at her hair wistfully and think, "If I grew my hair long, would it look like that?"  I was afraid to try for the longest time.  I couldn't bear to think of how long it would take to grow my hair out and it might not look good anyway.  Then I finally grew my hair out and MacDowell starting regularly sporting blowouts.  I was sort of angry.  I considered her a betrayer to her curly sisters.

So while I was contemplating trimming my hair to maintain the shorter cut, I once more was channel surfing on a dull afternoon and saw that some cable channel was starting up a new drama series starring Andie MacDowell.  In the coming attractions her hair was curly again.  I loved the cut.  I wanted it.  I realized that I had to find some photos of her in that show and wear that style.  The problem was that I would need to grow my hair out again.  It would take a few months to achieve the style I wanted.























So I didn't get a haircut for almost a year.  I grew it out.  What's the problem here?  I picked a cut, right?  I'm good to go for my next haircut.

The problem is I found another inspiration.

Kevin and I have become pretty big Dr. Who geeks in that past year.  You can't watch Dr. Who 10 or 11 without knowing about River Song.

River Song, aka Melody Pond,  is one of the most fascinating characters on the show. She is the daughter of 11's companions Amy and Rory.  She was conceived in the TARDIS, so she had inborn time lord power.  She was once able to regenerate and change form as The Doctor could.  Amy never realized her childhood friend "Mels" was her own daughter from the future. In one episode River sacrificed her regenerative powers to save The Doctor's life, so she's permanently in one form.  The Doctor met River for the first time on the day she died, but it was not the first time she met him.  Her past is his future.  We don't know yet how after River was stolen from Amy after her birth that she was able to join Amy as a schoolgirl and then ended up on a time continuum different from that of her mother and The Doctor.  It is an ongoing mystery. 

Of course none of that is relevant to this blog.  What about her is relevant?
Nice haircut, no?  My hair texture is very much like actress Alex Kingston's.  I could do this look pretty well I think.

Of course if I do cut my hair like this, all of those months I spent growing it out for the last haircut will be wasted.  This cut would be even shorter than my last cut. 

I was almost tempted to post a poll on Facebook asking my friends what haircut I think I should get.  The problem is I know too many Dr. Who geeks and they will choose the River Song cut out of bias rather than out of which cut would look best on me. 

I have two more days to decide.  Maybe I should just shave it all off and buy a wig.

Once my hair is cut, it's sadly not over.  The grays in my hair are really beginning to multiply.  To dye or not to dye?  If I dye, what color do I want?