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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why You Are Never Finished

You are never finished.  This may sound scary, stressful and tiring, but it is actually very, very exciting news.  We are such a goal driven society, reaching for accomplishments, milestones, rewards, MORE, and that does leave us feeling exhausted and ironically, empty.  But I am talking about something quite different here…I am not talking prizes, acquisitions or accolades; I am talking about YOU.  The amazing and endless human creature that you are.  YOU are never finished.  You are an ever expanding circle of light, abundant and curious and joyful.  You are inclusive of all things, dark and light, good and bad, high and low.  There is always MORE of you to be discovered, to be experienced.  And make no mistake, it is a discovery, not an invention.  You are all there, all the time, and all you are doing is constantly remembering and re-remembering that.

The best and most effective way we do this is through relationships.  People think of marriage as a fusing of sorts, a uniting of two people into a whole; I say that is not unique to the marriage relationship in the least.   When we connect with another human being we are fused for life, whether we ever see each other again physically (or these days, virtually) or not.  Relationships change us immediately and irrevocably.  Once I have met you, I can never again experience anything in the world as if I had not, and the longer the relationship lasts, the more and more and more I include you.  I am no longer myself without you.  You have become a filter through which I see the world, so I can never see the world the exact same way again.
Consider your parents; this is an obvious choice, as you actually are a fusion of them and you have internalized them in both a literal and figurative embodiment.  But who among us does not carry the voices of our parents (or whoever raised us) around in our heads ALL the time?  So many of our choices have been guided by them, both consciously and unconsciously.  I know people who seem to have lived their whole lives as a reaction AGAINST their parents, and I know people who have lived their whole lives as homage to them.  Parents are with us in every moment, as they are the people who, well…PROGRAMMED us, for lack of a better word.  Hopefully in mostly good ways.  They taught us to walk, talk, tie our shoelaces, ride our bikes; they engendered a love of reading or sports or nature or maybe all of the above.  They are as much a part of us as water is part of the ocean.  We are swirled together forever.

Now think about your friends…the musician you reference when you listen to a song, the doctor you call when you are sure you have a tumor, the teacher whose stories make you feel so much, much better about your own kids.  Or not.  But whoever they are, and whatever they do, they play into how you think, how you approach the world, how you perceive different situations.  The unique perspective they have shared with you has transformed your own; you can never eat a salad without thinking about what your gardener buddy has told you about pesticides or growing heirloom tomatoes.  Every time you read a book a friend recommended, you read it with them; why did they like it?  What clues to their personality are hidden in the story?  Every time you go to a restaurant you went to with your chums, you are there with them again…every time you drive down his street, hear that song or remember her story.  We carry our loved ones around with us all the time.
They say white is the color we see when all colors on the spectrum are present simultaneously; I say this is a good definition of God.  When all things are present simultaneously, the slate is completely clean.  When we include all things, we know God.  And that is what our relationships are for, even (and possibly especially) our challenging ones.  As we incorporate more and more and more of others into ourselves, we become more and more and more inclusive…closer to the entire spectrum, closer to God.  Even your cantankerous old uncle with the appalling political beliefs (or religious beliefs, or prejudices) that you have to kiss on the cheek every Thanksgiving is bringing you closer to knowing wholeness.  We are all necessary, we are all in this together and we are all helping each other every minute of every day whether we are trying (or want to) or not.  So keep on loving (or hating) every single person you meet.  That feeling you have for them means you are carrying them with you.  You are becoming more complete.  But wonderfully, you will never be finished.  Because someone and something new awaits you around each and every corner.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I just saw Godzilla.  Maybe you are thinking about going to see it too?  Giant monster destroying cities, what is not to love, am I right???  Well, just in case it is on your bucket list, you can go ahead and stop reading this.  Stop reading now.  Unless you want a total blow-by-blow breakdown of why it TOTALLY SUCKED. Or blew, your choice.

Not the monster itself, of course.  The monster was great!!!  And in a neat twist on the old Godzilla premise, he is actually one of the good guys!  “WHAT?????” you say?  "Godzilla is a GOOD GUY????  Doesn’t that make him TOTALLY UNSCARY????"  In a word, YES.  Yes, it does.  But he was still great.  Lovely to look at, and all that.

Not so lovely to look at was Bryan Cranston’s wig.  Wtf was that?  They drop 100 million dollars and can’t manage to scrounge up a convincing hairpiece?  Seriously, it was a good thing he (spoiler alert) DIED so early in the film without resolving any of his open ended plot points because all I could think about when he was onscreen was the hedgehog on his head.  And let’s address the “15 years later” moment when we all breathed a sigh of relief, thinking this MUST be the explanation for the bad rug, because “15 years later” he will be losing his hair and look like a normal person again.  But wait a minute…wait a fucking minute here…”15 years later” after living through a nuclear incident, the devastating loss of his wife and the stress of trying to discover the truth behind what really happened, the man is still in full follicle.  That ridiculous thing is still in residence on his scalp.  Did I say wtf yet?
So the lead of the movie, after several red herrings with talented stars we recognize, was some kid I’ve never seen before.  Now, that does not mean he is not a star; he may very well be.  But I don’t have a clue in the universe who he is and after watching him for 2+ hours, I don’t care to know.  Were the charismatic leads all booked?  Or did they get a load of the FUCKING AWFUL script and allow the best boy’s nephew to take over the role?  I didn’t care if this kid lived or died, and that would have been fun if he had actually gotten eaten or something good like that.  But he managed to survive being 5 minutes away from a nuclear blast that would have made Hiroshima “look like a firecracker” completely unscathed.  Darn the luck!  And the writing.

He was also briefly teamed up with a nameless Asian child for no discernable reason.  No point to it, making it seem both vaguely racist and also from some previous version of the script.  Maybe this was a tip of the hat to “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”?  Maybe the name “Ford” was a tip of the hat to Harrison?  Maybe I don’t care in the least.  Actually, there was a LOT of hat tipping, from “Jaws” to “Jurassic Park” (hmmm, perhaps this was meant as homage to Spielberg?) but sadly all it did was remind me that this was not “Jaws” or “Jurassic Park” and it was a damn crying shame, too.  My kingdom for a “Smile, you son-of-a-bitch” moment!  This movie was more akin to “Airplane” than any of the classic creature features, mainly because I could not stop thinking to myself, “I guess I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue!”
And how about the other monsters?  I know, I know, GODZILLA is monster enough for ANYBODY…except these particular film makers, who thought they would throw in a little CGI lameness to spice up the proceedings and give Godzilla a formidable foe or two.  You know, I could watch Godzilla take down the Golden Gate Bridge all day long, folks!  Godzilla wreaking havoc with his giant Godzilla-ness would have been good enough for me, especially if there were a little heart and characters I felt for…but NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  They had to throw in this interminable plot about the other (much faker, much less interesting) monsters.  I would like right now to offer some kudos to Ken Watanabe, who seemed as bored and frustrated as I was.  Thanks, Ken, I appreciate your empathy!!!  Next time don’t trick me into seeing a shitty movie with your respectable name!  Double that to YOU, Mr. David Straithairn!!!

I recently saw “Sharknado” and was amazed at how sharks flying out of the sky and swallowing people whole could seem dull.  But “Sharknado” was Mardi Gras compared to this thing.  Godzilla, Hollywood has DONE YOU WRONG.  You didn’t deserve it in the least, ESPECIALLY now that we know you are actually one of the GOOD GUYS.  Hey buddy, whadda you say you wreak a little havoc in tinsel town, see if you can’t scare up some decent scripts and actors with a little self-respect.  And charisma, while you are at it.  For all your good intentions, you are still a pretty intimidating character, after all.  Don’t be shy, go ahead and ask for what you want, which at the end of the day is just a little respect, am I right?  For your fans and moviegoers, too.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


When I was in the 6th grade, someone called me a frog.  Don’t get me wrong; although this was clearly a lowlight of that year, I remember 6th grade as generally being the deepest depths of adolescent misery, so being compared to an amphibian was simply adding insult to injury.  In defense of the (mean!) person who (actually implied) this, I was not a pretty thing to look at.  I was starting puberty and my lanky body was quite suddenly lumpy.  The glasses I wore “for distance” abruptly became the glasses I wore “all the time”.  And I had braces.  And for some reason, I decided this was the perfect time to cut my long blonde hair short.  It was an awkward stage, to put it mildly.  To make matters worse, we had just moved to a new town and a new school and I had all the wrong clothes and an (understandably) terrible attitude.  Ah, youth!

So my parents enrolled me in Wednesday night CCD classes at our church, as if things weren’t bad enough.  You’d have to know my parents to understand why they thought this would be a good place for me to make friends and integrate into our new community; you’d have to know me to understand why it was not.  The night “it” happened, the teachers challenged us to be more like Jesus…music to a preteen’s ears!  Ha.  Their suggestion for how to do this was to “kiss a frog”.  You know, like in the frog prince.  Just because someone isn’t good looking, doesn’t have the right clothes and isn’t cool doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of attention and possibly even affection.  Even a frog might have some kind of value.  So after class, as I was waiting for my parents to pick me up, one of the most beautiful and popular girls in my school came over and said “hi” to me.  And I said “hi” back.  But inside, I was sick.  Because I fully understood what had just happened…that beautiful and popular girl had just kissed a frog.
I’m not popular.  I’ve never been popular.  By the time I was in 8th grade I had contacts, the braces came off, my hair grew in and my body normalized back to lanky.  I had a lot of wonderful friends, many of whom still bless my life today.  Even the beautiful and popular girl who had wounded me so badly and I were on good terms.  But I still wasn’t popular. Because being popular (at least in the “popular” sense of the word) is not about being well liked and socially accepted; popular is a state of being.  Because being popular, (contrary to “popular” opinion), is not so much about beauty, brains, clothes, cars, fads or trends…it’s about the place you sit in your soul and how you move in this world.  If you are popular, you can’t disguise it, not even in a Wal-Mart leotard.  You’re wearing it?  That automatically makes it COOL.

The same goes for being a nerd.  If you are a nerd, you have nerdism in your very soul.  Sorry about that.  You can try to dress that shit up, but it still smells, looks, tastes and feels nerdy.  All those “geek to chic” movies are selling you a bill of goods.  You ARE a NERD, to the very core of your being, and ain’t nothing going to change that.  Nothing you can add to your outside, anyway.  And I like nerds!  I am personally more of a geek than a nerd, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for any teenager who carries a briefcase or wears a pocket protector.  We need you nerds!  Never change!  And let’s face it, you probably couldn’t even if you wanted to…psych!
We are all, to some degree or another, playing with the hand we got dealt; some of us are traditionally beautiful, but most of us, not so much.  A few people are truly brilliant, some really smart and then…there’s the rest of the planet.  There are athletes and mathletes, freaks and geeks (no, not the same thing), Gingers and Mariannes, Studs and Duds, frogs and princes, Hillarys and…Kardashians.  That’s what makes a horse race, friends!  And there is the degree to which we self-identify and accept who we are, and then there is the degree to which we struggle against our own nature our whole lives.  Because we have been appraised of the differences and which ones are deemed “good” and which ones are deemed “bad” and we all want to be ALL GOOD, ALL the TIME.  At least in other people’s opinions, if not our own. 

But you know what?  I AM A GEEK.  I get ridiculously excited watching “Sherlock” on PBS, I still kind of love the Monkees, the 70’s were my favorite decade to date and Stephen King (the MASTER of ALL GEEKS) is my most preferred living author.  Ha ha ha!  See???  GEEK CITY.  And I have learned to love that about myself, why not? I’ll never be interested in fashion (Zzzzz), I am ALWAYS going to be WAY behind on any hot trends (because wtf???), and I am never going to care about the kind of car you drive or how much money you make.  I am only impressed or pleased by WHO YOU ARE, not anything you added on to yourself.  The great news?  I’ve found that “who most people are” is pretty damned endearing and often very interesting.  I really do genuinely like the vast majority of people I meet.  Total geek thing to say, I know.
See, that is the real message of the frog prince…it is always about what is going on inside of you, not outside, that really counts.  If you can live up to your own standards and let people have their own without (too much) judgment, then you are going to be a pretty happy person.  If you go to bed at night knowing you did alright by your inner geek or freak or nerd or diva or Type-A or FROG or whatever you truly are, then you are going to be content.  Trying to twist yourself into a format you were never meant to live by will bring you nothing but confusion and frustration.  Figure out who you REALLY are (you already know, come on!!!) and go there.  Go there without concern for what others will think because it doesn’t matter.  If they want to spoil their day thinking about how much they disapprove of you, that is their loss.