Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The First Time I Was Charmed

Yesterday brought back many memories. I saw friends that I have not seen for 40 years.

We talked about games we played, other children we knew, and how life is different now.

We spoke of a family that lived behind us that was touched by the tragedy of losing a child, and how we all shared yards like they were our own.  No fences divided us and the area we played seemed endless.

We were all different ages.  My sister was probably one of the youngest at three years old, and Karen, our neighbor, was a mature woman of ten.  Roy was in high school and was totally out of our league.  He did not hang around with us, but we watched him in awe as he played his drums and got to have his own room.

Bruce was younger than Roy, but was still a much older man to me.  Playing with his younger siblings was always fun, but when he was there something exciting and new was added to our younger group.

One overcast day we were swinging on his swingset, and he got bored and started to dig for worms.  The girls kept swinging, and Bruce was telling us he was finding some big fat ones.  Then he said the terrible words, "And I found an especially juicy one for you...PENELOPE..." I froze.

I could not swing but I could not get off the swing either.  Something bad was going to happen--so I covered my eyes with my hands.  I think I was shaking a little.  I heard the others girls yelling ewwwwww!!!! and no no no!!  I was imagining a worm nightmare behind my closed eyes. Would he put the worm in my hair?  Would he throw it at me? Then I heard everyone telling me to look and open my eyes!  Open your eyes!! 

And there, about a foot from my face, was a daisy.  And about a foot behind that stood Bruce, with a simple grin on his face.  He held it there for about two more seconds, then said,


Part of my mind remembers him saying something almost wise after that like "see, things aren't always what they seem..." but I can't say for sure.

I took the daisy and smiled non-stop for the rest of the week.  I did not fall madly in love with Bruce or even think he liked me, but something was new and different in my life.  Not everything turned out bad that I imagined would.

Today I look for the magic in everyday life.  Many times the smallest things contain the biggest wonders.  Did the daisy event with Bruce have something to do with this?  I don't know for sure, but maybe it did.

One thing I DO know is if you want to find something, you actually have to look for it.  :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When Is a Relationship Really Over?

I am writing about a failing relationship in a new book. 

There is no doubt that the relationship in the book is doomed.  Of course both characters are flawed and have emotional baggage and issues, but don't we all.  Yet the fate of their situation is easy for me to see.  Nothing mysterious is going on, they are not struggling with tough decisions--it is just OVER.

It is rarely like this is real life.

We stay and fight and try and work on situations that may be salvageable, but how do we know when to actually end it?

Certain people say short of physical abuse, you should stay.  You are married after all, and that is supposed to be forever.  And of course if children are involved that is a whole different story.  Here is a paragraph from an article by Jayna Solinger: 

Generally, it is better for children to suffer a bad marriage than to cope with divorce. According to University of Michigan psychologist and divorce expert Neil Kalter, the misery of an unhappy marriage is less significant than the changes after a divorce. The children would rather their parents keep fighting and not get divorced (Marriage 64). Although this does not seem logical, it shows that children want their parents together at all costs. Also, contrary to popular belief, the alternative to most divorces is not life in a war zone (Zinmeister 30). In the vast number of divorces there is no strife or violence that could ruin a person’s childhood; the divorce is usually driven by a quest for "greener grass." These divorces almost always make the child worse off and create a number of unnecessary problems for the child. If parents would concentrate harder on working conflicts out rather than their own personal happiness, the children would be much better off.

While I do agree that parents should try and be their best for their kids, this paragraph makes me feel the child would learn that he is stuck once he is in a terrible situation.  That is not a message I would want to send my children.

On the other side of the coin, leaving might NOT be the worst thing:

Divorce, however, is not always a terrible thing. In a few given situations it proves to be for the best. The two situations that may prove beneficial for a person to get a divorce are abusive relationships and infidelity. When one parent is abusive, whether verbal, physical, or sexual, to the children, it is more beneficial to the child if the parent leaves (Huffman 4). Also, if one spouse is beating the other, the marriage should be ended. If a child watches his/her parent get beaten his entire life, he/she could think that it is fine to act this way or severely resent the parent for staying.

And so, the quandary.

How is one supposed to know what path is the better?  Hindsight here, as always, is 20/20, and we will never know the results of our decisions until years in the future.

I remember reading a little book called Life Advice from 4 to 104.  Little kids gave advice about how to hide bad tasting vegetables in your milk, teens advised how to sneak in after curfew.  A man of 92 said the biggest decision with the most consequences you will ever make in your life is the person you choose as a mate.  When I read it I was younger and did not understand the implications.

I get it now.

Day 64 of 100 Unfortunate Days

Day 64

How can you tell when you should leave someone? Is emotional neglect enough? How about being called a c**t, or having your grammar corrected in front of friends and family, or having your antique furniture you were saving from your family be put on the curb for trash pick-up? Or being told you were being ‘trained’ after your newlywed husband refused to talk to you for a month? Maybe being told you were not really sick but looking for attention when you had pneumonia? But on the other side of the coin, what if you have not worked in 15 years and this same man supported you and gave you everything you could ever need. Vacations and diamonds. A perfect house in one of the best neighborhoods and school systems in the United States. So am I a hooker? Does that actually make me a prostitute? Should I have left my honeymoon when he told me wasn’t speaking to me because he “realized what he had gotten himself into” by marrying me—and he did not like the way I packed? Can you really stay married to someone and feel that they are an asshole half the time? He thinks I am a waste of space and wonders if my father is disappointed with me because I am such an underachiever. How I am wasting my God-given talents? Can a person like you—or love you—and not talk to you? How many times can you try to talk to someone, or go to therapy, or read books to help salvage an emotionally ridiculous relationship? Can you stay in the relationship and retain your dignity and not have people think that you are a doormat?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Isaac Asimov, C.S. Lewis, and the Reagan Doctrine

I was feeling inadequate and incomplete because of my skepticism about religion and God, so I requested a clear indication.

And it did seem that the answer to my request for a signal of whether God was indeed there was all signs point to yes.

And then, of course, I had to start thinking.

My average education was not serving me well here, so I looked up two scholars, Isaac Asimov, and C.S. Lewis. 

Both frighteningly over educated, and born within 25 years of one-another, they had strikingly different views of God and religion.

Lewis, from Ireland, was an atheist, then theist, and eventually a devout Christian.

Asimov, originally from Russia but smuggled into the United States by his parents, probably could be called a reluctant atheist.

Lewis writes in blossoming, flowing and rich descriptions in contrast with Asimov's sharp, clean and direct sentences.  Asimov won Nebula and Hugo awards for his writings, and his short story "Nightfall" is considered by many the best science fiction story ever written.  Read "Nightfall" here:


Lewis has written the Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, and many additional Christian-themed books, several made into well-known and popular movies.  He was moved to re-devotion to Christianity partially by his good friend J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit.

Asimov called himself an atheist, but with reservations.  He believed the term stated what he did not believe in, but neglected what he did.  He considered himself a humanist.  Although he wrote in simple and straightforward sentences, his mind was anything but simple.  He was a long-standing member of Mensa, and served as VP of the High IQ Society.

And now to the theological arguments.

Lewis's books argue that most evidence is based in favor of Christianity, and reasonable people should therefore be Christian.  (This is the most simplified version of his idea.)  He did not feel one should believe in Christianity if, in their opinion, the signs pointed otherwise  He did not believe "leaps of faith" served a skeptic any purpose.  But, for those who considered themselves devout Christians, he believed it better "to believe based on faith rather than evidence.  For a complete view of Lewis's ideals please read here:


Asimov pointed out that Ronald Reagan stated that anyone who does not believe in God cannot be trusted because they have nothing to motivate them to behave properly.  Asimov felt this was sad, inferring that people needed to be bribed and scared into behaving a certain way according to the "Reagan Doctrine," and we do not have the ability to keep our word or behave properly simply based on a sense of honor.  If we help someone, keep a promise, or just act basically decent, we are merely buying a "ticket to heaven."

I found the Reagan Doctrine fascinating, and hope you take the time to read this interesting treatise on a touchy subject.  :)


Day 12 of 100 Unfortunate Days

Everyone thinks the anti-Christ is the devil, but it’s not. It’s a person just like you or me. Then the anti-Christ could tell you that if you do not go to church and follow him, you will go to hell. Or maybe he is right and IF you go to church you are following not the teachings of God, but of Satan. Satan is the father of lies, right? How the hell are we supposed to know who is lying

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Now I'm Self-Conscious...

Christians have always made me feel uncomfortable.  Or anyone who follows a religion with unwavering belief.

How can you believe in something you cannot see, feel, or touch? 

And maybe uncomfortable is the wrong word. 

Although I don't think the way I feel is inadequate--it is close.  Maybe I feel less-than-good.  And I'm not exactly sure why.

It could be because they have that unwavering belief in God--and if you read my last post (below)--that is something I do not have.

Speaking about my last post...

I re-read it.

And then I re-read the comments.

I think a few Christians commented.  And a few non-Christians too.  I have to say these comments, along with conversations that I had with friends and family concerning God and this post, came closer to making me feel there is a God than anything I have ever read, studied or experienced in church.

Someone reached out a hand in friendship, another privately emailed me and said they understood.  Others reinforced friendships I was already proud to have.

I asked for a sign in my last post--an undeniable signal from the Big Guy himself.  This is the first time I can say their was not only a sign--but a shiny banner repeatedly putting itself in my field of vision.


Does this make me a Christian?  Or a person with an unwavering belief?

Not yet.  Which is good because I feel a bit self-conscious even writing this post because Christians and people of unwavering belief make me feel uncomfortable.  But I have to be honest...

It kinda feels neat thinking that for a change I could be headed in that direction...

Day 23 of 100 Unfortunate Days below.  One part of a journey...
Day 23

Once there was a little girl. She went into her grandmother’s special cabinet and took out all the scarves. Some were bright pink with gold coins sewn to them, some were square and some were rectangular, one had the bright eyes of many foxes, but all were silk. She knew the scarves were magic, and she brought them outside with a basket of clothes pins. She hung the scarves on the weeping willow tree in the back yard…all around the low-hanging outside branches, and formed a beautiful house with windows and a big door that opened and closed. As she clipped the last pin to the last scarf the house filled with gold furniture, and the fox jumped off the scarf and became her pet. She could hear music in her head and could light fire with her fingertips. She looked up into the night sky and she knew how old the stars were. Her eyes were the clear green of the ocean and she did not have to blink. She knew all the languages of the world and as she lay on the ground the earth swallowed her. It held her as she slept and in the morning she left her scarf house with the fox and went in to the woods. She took her pocket knife and carved her name in a tree that grew the wood that would someday form her coffin. She cut her hand on the knife and her blood dropped on the ground. A crow flew down from the sky and landed at her feet near the blood. “Go home.” it said and flew away. She followed a trail of poisonous mushrooms deeper into the woods and fell to her knees at the sight of the moon in the distance. She closed her eyes and went home to her silk house. Her parents missed her very much and her grandmother was not even mad anymore that she played with her scarves without asking. But she did not know this, and she did not miss them. She cut the lemon tart that was her breakfast and picked raspberries from the bush next to the weeping willow tree. One day she missed her parents and she went home, but they did not know her…she was not a little girl any more.