Sunday, November 26, 2006

Kumbaya, My Lord, Kumbaya

I wept this morning. Wept like I haven't in, well, hours (my resident bachelor and I are breaking up so I've been emotionally overwrought for a couple of days). Kumbaya, according to the Gazette, has evolved from a symbol of peace to an international joke, an idiom for idiocy. Kumbaya has become the symbol of insincere bonhomie. Oh, dear Lord.

I am, at heart, a Catholic girl. Yes, I've had my way with a few altar boys, smoked a couple of Lemon Twist cigarettes, but mostly I love Jesus and I want to make him happy. So Kumbaya I sing. Often. Loudly and with gusto.

What has happened to our cherished Catholic anthem? According to wise people, Kumbaya is a pidgin English version of "Come by here." The word represents a plea to our mighty God and runs throughout the song. "Someone's prayin' Lord, Come by here."

How did such a beautiful prayer become a joke? The Gazette puts forth a few theories. It is a one-word title that rolls easily off the tongue. It sounds foreign, thus funny. It's African-American, so racists deride it, can't wait to suck the soul from it. Mainly, it's a song that summer campers and folk mass celebrants have been forced to sing for years, and they're tired of it.

Well, I used to love those Catholic folk masses. Almost as much as the Mariachi masses. I loved singing Kumbaya and all the other classics that were sung to maniacal guitar playing.

So, when I'm in bed tonight, lonely, tear-stained and sick at heart, I'll be singing to myself "Someone's cryin' Lord, come by here."

I hope he listens. I hope he puts his arms around me and comforts me. Even if the song has become a joke.

A puppeteer

I wanted to study dance in college. I wanted to perform on Broadway. I wanted to walk through campus, and life, with "jazz hands."

As a freshman, I was at CU-Boulder, living the life of a lab rat as a Molecular/Cellular/Developmental Biology major. My older brother was a year ahead of me, also an MCDB major, brilliant beyond belief. He seemed to understand the "cell" with all of its asinine complexity at an intuitive level. He understood physics, chemistry, had memorized the Periodic Table and was even capable of making hilarious jokes about it. I, meanwhile, stumbled around campus humiliated by the forehead crease left by my lab goggles, wondering what geek could help me figure out the molarity of my latest unknown.

I eventually changed my major to business, accounting more specifically. It wasn't so much that I was wildly excited by debits and credits, I'm still not, but I didn't come from a particularly wealthy family and I needed a career, not just an education. Becoming a CPA seemed a safe bet.

Because of my college experience, and maybe my perceived lack of personal creative freedom, I always find it interesting to hear what young people are studying these days. I wonder how the parents feel, especially the fathers, when they hear that their young son is going to be, say, a puppeteer. Does this revelation cause Dad to puff out his chest and smoke a stogie on the back deck? Does Mom call over her coffee klatch girlfriends to boast about her son's incredible prowess with a hand puppet?

When my son (now 21) was little he had a puppet as his constant companion. We got it at Poor Richard's and it was, sad to say, a beaver. Furry brown with lewd teeth and a hopeful demeanor. Bren wanted to take it everywhere. Unfortunately, after about five minutes, he wanted me to hold it. He was a very engaging child and whenever he found a new grownup friend on the street or in a coffee shop he would shout, in a loud Mickey Mouse voice, "Look at my mom's beaver!" This, of course, had an EFHutton effect. Everything would slow to a crawl, people would turn their heads deliberately toward me to see how I would respond.

I learned quickly to deal with this recurrent nightmare. I worked up a little beaver dance and performed it on the person nearest to me who appeared somewhat sympathetic. I would take "Beav" and bite the person's forearm and say "Come help me build my dam!"

I don't want to malign puppeteers. In fact, I want to laud puppeteers. In my immediate family, we have three CPAs, a pathologist, an attorney, a pharmaceutical drug rep. Our parents are proud of us. We all have careers and children, big houses and big mortgages, lots of demands for our money and our time. We're living the American dream!

I can't help but wonder, though, if any of my siblings ever feel like I do while I'm scurrying through the office clutching my mechanical pencil and my laptop, wearing the latest Ann Taylor fashions, picturing myself instead in fishnet hose and a bustier, standing under the bright theater lights, bowing demurely to thunderous applause. When my older brother holds his stethoscope does he secretly wish it were a paintbrush? When my sister makes her closing arguments in front of the judge and jury, would she rather be doing improvisational comedy in a little club somewhere? I don't have any idea.

I know one thing. I hope my children will pursue their passions. It may be an uphill battle. Already their Dad and I have college funds set up for each of them. We have firm ideas about which elite schools they should attend and what careers might hold promise. I imagine we'll have a doctor or two, maybe a physicist, probably a computer whiz. The IQ tests have been administered and we know where their strengths lie. But not where their dreams lie.

I have secret wish. I want a puppeteer.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bozo the Clown

I don't know what it is. I truly don't. I've been asked many times and I am unable to give a proper defense.

There is something about Bozo the Clown that makes me scream "TAKE ME!"

Ladies who lunch: a rebuttal

I am writing this in response to the Sorority Girls post below which was written by a close friend of mine on his blog.

I hardly know where to begin. I guess I will leave the analysis of sorority girls alone as I was never one of them, neither were any of my sisters, I’m guessing neither were yours. I’m sure I have a few friends who were but I couldn’t tell you who.

I do know many society gals, however. And, yes, we threw a big party this month to raise funds for Newborn Hope. We also educated the 1600 people in the room about prematurity and gave them further opportunity to get involved with the cause.

Because we fed our fat faces, migrant workers on the Western Slope will have access to prenatal care; Peak Vista will have money to see high-risk indigent pregnant women; McKee Medical Center will have a bi-lingual social worker on staff, Penrose Community will hold smoking cessation classes for pregnant teens, etc.

In August we threw a big party called Pasta in the Park to raise funds for TESSA. We challenged each other to make the tastiest pasta sauce, dressed up as though we were heading off to Ascot, and made a bunch of money so that abused women and their children have a safe place to go. Ask Cari Davis what she thinks of the work we sorority gals do, and what she would do without us.

I think in December, it’s S-CAP. The Red Ribbon Ball. Yet another garish event designed to raise funds to help those suffering with AIDS.

In February, it’ll be the Heart Ball. We’ll raise more than $100,000 in a single night. The men will dress in tuxes and we girls will get to wear our ball gowns, maybe even our furs. We’ll once again eat delicious fattening food and dance to the mellow sounds of Moments Notice, or some other local boring band.

I was part of the organization that started the Children’s Literacy Center. Remember, we used to hold the Celebrity Dinner at Jose Muldoon’s? “Important” people served us tacos and margaritas and we made enough money to kick off our fledgling project. If you don’t know what a difference the Children’s Literacy Center has made in Colorado Springs, you should really check out their website. Or talk to any educator in town.

Guess what? The same 100 or so society women hold every one of these fundraising events. EVERY ONE. We also do the Festival of World Theater, the Dance Theater’s wine tasting weekend, the Fine Arts Center’s annual gala--all kinds of arts and culture undertakings that benefit our community mightily.

I took a graduate course on Nonprofit Management a few years ago at UCCS. It was taught by Cathy Robbins who heads up the El Pomar Foundation. She taught us that the role played by society women, the fund raisers, in the world of philanthropy is immeasurable and critically important.

The thing about your post that is the most upsetting to me is the accusation that Newborn Hope has played into the hands of the anti-abortion activists. As the person who was recently in charge of granting the nearly $300,000 we raised last year, all I can say is NOT ON MY WATCH. The ironic thing about society gals is that we are smart. Really smart. Maybe we gave up careers to marry the big guys and raise families, but we were chosen by those big boys because of our DNA. Because of our charisma. Because of our mental acuity. We were chosen by them because of our genes. Not because of our jeans.

My Advisory Council co-chair, former Kappa Kappa Gamma turned attorney who has recently published her fourth book, and I understood very well how the issue of prematurity might be linked to the issue of abortion. She and I are actually on opposite sides of the abortion issue. Be we are most definitely on the same side when it comes to prematurity prevention and the work done by Newborn Hope.

I’ll give you a little education. We give a lot of money for pregnancy tests. This has never felt to me like a great use of our funds. However, because we have several physicians, neonatal nurses and social workers on our committee (we’ll only accept them if they have a least one strand of genuine pearls and understand that Birkenstocks with knee socks are not allowed in any circumstance), the pregnancy test is a very important first step. It is imperative if (1) a provider wants to enter the woman into the healthcare system (2) the provider wants to enroll the woman in the Medicaid system (3) the provider wants to take control of the woman (usually a young girl) to prevent her from obtaining an abortion.

Those in category 3 usually are also interested in funds for “early ultrasound.” From a medical standpoint, there is almost no reason to do an ultrasound at six weeks except to show a young girl that this is in fact a “baby” living within her womb that should not be aborted.

My co-chair and I, despite the fact that we are society gals, are not idiots. Nor are any gals on our committee. We understand very well the dynamic. As a result, we changed the way Newborn Hope grants funds. We now have a rubric that we use to evaluate grant proposals. If the pregnancy test is a first step in getting the patient into Medicaid, or if it is a first step in referring the woman to a doctor who will provide “continuity of care” all the way until birth, we’ll pay for the pregnancy tests. If not, we won't. On our watch, a local medical care organization, which is actually closely aligned with the anti-abortion movement, got nothing. NOT ONE DIME. For the first time in years. Check out our website at to see who gets our money. Our evaluation rubric is posted there as well.

So make fun if you must. But this town would be a much different place without the ladies who lunch. People in the non-profit world know it. They would never belittle our efforts, because we help them achieve their ends in a way they couldn’t without our support.

If you’d like me to throw a little soiree to raise funds for one of your pet projects, maybe the PPJPC, my sorority friends and I could have about a hundred grand in your pocket by the end of next week. So let us know. Even with the holidays fast approaching, lots of shopping to do for our little silver spooners, we’d still love an opportunity to feed our fat faces! And shop for new outfits from our fine local merchants! You don’t have to ask twice!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sorority Girls

This post was made by a friend of mine on his blog,

I have nothing, nothing, nothing against sorority girls, nor society girls, they’re just fine.

I remember sororities at college. They provided camaraderie and support for women in educational institutions that had only comparatively recently become co-ed. And sororities prepped girls for the veneer surface of — I don’t know — a life of little academic enterprise after college?

Sororities taught girls social skills and cemented a community fashion. Not fashion in the creative sense but rather a pageant of the accepted norm. Beauty as a dress code that everyone could feel excited about despite it being ludicrously conformist. Sororities also reinforced the preening considered necessary to attract the ambitious corporate male who sought a domestic arrangement in much the same way that he courted a career. For girls who were neither creative, independent, nor perhaps all that complicated, sororities extended the home economics lessons to the prospect of hiring maids.

What do sorority girls do after college when their only idea of extra-curricular means to hold an ice cream social? I don’t want to demean what they do, they have children of course, and run communities. And when there is time, they do lunch. And when there’s charity afoot, these girls do as their sororities did and conduct a benefit.

I saw such a benefit recently, an enormous social function, an annual society event, the cumulative product of countless sub-subcommittee meetings. I could say that the beneficiaries of the charity could have mattered not the least, but that would in this case be most inaccurate. Two factors:

At Newborn Hope the fuzzy bunny factor is in overdrive. Money raised is “for the babies!!!” Specifically babies born prematurely in rural areas without access to urban hospital programs. The money goes for brochures and nurse training programs which teach, basically: Get that baby to the city stat!

So it’s not just that the NBH charity is for a demonstrably compelling, in-your-arms-tangible cause, but the chief beneficiaries, as with traditional sororities, are the sorority girls themselves. Making a rough estimate of the figures, I can approximate that well over half of the resources generated by NBH go to feeding itself. Throwing the big party, holding all the planning meetings, that’s the primary function. The money these women spend goes to pay for the luncheons and the overhead. It’s a great boondoggle for The Broadmoor and the shops which get to advertise through the annual function, the NBH fashion show.

The time which the girls expend toward putting it all together is also a large resource redirected. The girls are not driving the taxis nor holding any babies. These philanthropists are holding lunches, paying for the lunches themselves, eating the lunches themselves, and planning for themselves the next one. While it might be uncharitable to ask these ladies to give directly, albeit unselfishly to a good cause? Do premature babies have to settle for only a fraction of their self-serving dollar? Such sorority-style events are very similar to a retail store charity model where an advertized small percentage of sales, nothing extra from the customer’s pocket, is promised to go to a charity.

And what about the charity of premature babies? Wouldn’t a public health matter be best addressed by a public health program? Here you have rich Libertarians who would rather contribute their table scraps to the cause, rather than support taxes to improve the health system thereby resolving many health problems, among them premature births.

And in Colorado Springs there is the Christian Anti-abortion element. NBH plays straight into the hands of the Respect Life crowd. Anything that forces a pregnant woman to commit to her pregnancy, prematurely.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving thanks

My third grade twins were asked in school last week to write down three things they were thankful for. Both wrote that they were thankful for family, friends, the earth. Under each category they were asked to elaborate a bit. Under family, my little girl wrote that she was thankful for Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters.

My little boy, however, had a different take on the assignment. He wrote that he was thankful that his family was supportive, funny, and "willing." Willing. How cute. Willing to do what? He didn't really say.

Upon reflection, I know that I too am thankful for the people in my world who are willing. Willing to let me be myself. Willing to forgive my indiscretions. Willing to hike with me on a snowy morning. Willing to be spontaneous and funny and interesting. Willing to offer words of encouragement or words of advice. Willing to confront me when necessary. Willing to love me, come what may.

I want to learn a lesson from my son, accidentally wise beyond his years, and be more willing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Crying while eating

You've done it. I've certainly done it. Sitting down for a bite to eat, suddenly overcome by emotion. "My GOD. What has my life become?" Or "Why, oh why, are we fighting WARS when we should be MAKING LOVE?" Or, in my most recent case, "Why the HELL do I spend half my life doing things I HATE?"

Perhaps you were already crying but, through your tears, saw last night's leftover lemon chicken and just could not resist.

Do not despair. We are not alone. Plenty of good people, people just like us, cry while they eat. The difference is that they have the presence of mind to capture it on video.

Privacy freak

A couple of years ago I took my son to a local college to register for a class. I filled out the required paperwork and when I handed it back to the clerk she said, "Oh, you forgot to fill in his Social Security number." I replied that no, indeed, I had not forgotten but that Social Security had nothing to do with studying Plant Biology and therefore I was unwilling to give his SSN to them. "But we need it because it will be his student ID number." I disagreed and informed her that she could simply assign him a student ID number like 999-99-9999. I am sure I've never seen anyone look quite as perplexed as the clerk did at that moment. It took over an hour and several different administrators "reasoning" with me before my son got his random student ID number and off we went to the bookstore.

First mini-moral of the story. You people are giving out your Social Security numbers way too readily. This is obvious because with thousands of students registering every year I was apparently the only privacy nut in the history of the college unwilling to cooperate. Your SSN should never be given to anyone except a company/individual who is required to report your earnings or wages to the IRS. Period. Period. Period.

Next, remember in the not-too-distant past when brilliant geeks in labs participating the the Human Genome Project discovered that the presence of certain genes could predict possible future diseases or health problems. What an amazing discovery, one that could benefit mankind mightily. Enter bastard medical insurance companies. "Oh, we'd sure like to get our hands on that kind of information so we can deny coverage." Enter corporate assholes. "Oh, we'd sure like to get our hands on that kind of information so we can deny employment."

Second mini-moral of the story. Guard your medical information in every way that you can. Start by refusing to give doctor's offices and insurance companies your SSN which is, as we've learned, a number you must only give to an employer, possibly a bank or a broker. If you are insured under a group plan, talk to your employer about keeping those numbers private. There is absolutely no reason that Kaiser Permanente needs your fucking Social Security number. Make some noise about it.

And if you ever need to seek treatment for substance abuse or mental health problems, do not do it with the knowledge or assistance of any insurance company. Pay cash, use a fake name. I know this sounds like paranoia (oops! a mental health problem) but this is a monkey that will hang onto your back forever. Once again, denial of employment, medical coverage. Don't even think of running for public office or being a teacher or a policeman or a firefighter. Medical care providers pretend that our privacy is protected. It's not protected. Talk to Bill O'Reilly.

The Patriot Act gives the government the right to mine the entire spectrum of public and private sector information. Any walls of privacy that may have formerly existed, shaky as they were, have come crashing down.

Third mini-moral of the story. Teach your children to protect their privacy. I'm not advocating that we make them hate or fear the government, or insurance companies, or school counselors, or Kaiser Permanente (actually I am). But young people should be made aware that personal information in the wrong hands can make life a nightmare.

I saw my son this morning and he showed me his new cell phone. "Guess what?" he said. "I got it at Wal-Mart. Sixteen cents per minute prepaid, no contract, I gave 'em a fake name. Kubla Khan."

Mission accomplished.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Newborn Hope and Faded Beauty

On Thursday and Friday I, along with 1600 of my closest friends, dolled up and went to the Broadmoor International Center to attend the annual Newborn Hope luncheon and fashion show. This is a spectacular event, something that we look forward to all year. Filet mignon, chocolate mousse and champagne are culinary staples. Beautiful models from Denver, both male and female, entertain us. We have a silent auction (Botox, rounds of golf, ski jackets, jewelry), we sell table decorations and Christmas ornaments, we have a balloon raffle. We have fun. We raise money.

I have been involved with Newborn Hope for more than a decade. I have co-chaired the event, co-chaired the Advisory Council, been a member of the Corporate Board. Newborn Hope is about prematurity prevention and maternal/neonatal healthcare. I could go on and on about my passion for our mission and for the organization, but I think I'll save that for another time.

What I want to talk about are the women who are Newborn Hope. Shortly after I became involved with the organization, I discovered that I was pregnant with twins. I had had 4 easy pregnancies in the past so this discovery did not deter me from my normal behavior in the slightest. At 26 weeks (normal gestation is 40 weeks) I went to my doctor for a routine check up. Ironically, she informed me that I was in pre-term labor and that I needed to walk across the parking lot and check myself into the hospital.

The long and short of it is that I ended up enduring 10 weeks of strict bedrest. I had 4 young children at home but was told that I was allowed to get up only once every 2 hours to go to the bathroom. Yeah, right. Puh-lease.

My Newborn Hope friends, none of whom I knew well at the time, heard of my plight and knew how important, and how impossible, compliance was. In order to help me and my little preborns, they arranged for a different committee member to deliver a meal to my home, enough to feed the 6 of us, every night for 10 weeks. A woman I hardly knew called me and said, politely but firmly, "I will be in your driveway every morning at 7:45 to take your kids to school. Please have them watch for me." Another woman drove my little David to preschool three times per week, a thirty minute round trip.

Twice during my confinement, 20 women or so brought me a moveable feast. They showed up on my doorstep with egg dishes and waffles and bacon and sweet rolls, flowers even. They arranged chairs around me, hugged me, talked to me, made me laugh. Two hours later they gathered everything up, washed and put away every dish, left me with a few good books, and out they went. It was a bit surreal. Kind of like Cat in the Hat.

My new friends came and took my little ones to Happy Apple Farm to get Halloween pumpkins. They showed up every day at 3:30 to lift my little Lara out of her crib after her afternoon nap. They heard that I was having a hard time reading so they blazed in, taught me to cross stitch, brought me everything I needed to complete a project, and raced back out to their own lives.

A severely premature infant is the most expensive medical patient there is. Much more expensive than a cancer patient, a transplant patient, an accident victim. More importantly, premature babies can have developmental delays, vision problems, physical difficulties that last a lifetime. My twins, had they been born at 26 weeks, might be very different children today. I am grateful for their good health. I'll be forever thankful for the women who helped me carry to term.

I took a friend of mine, a guy, to the luncheon this year. I wanted to share with him an important part of my life, to show him what I've done for 10 years, to introduce him to the people who've made a huge difference to me and to Devon and Ryan. He was one of only a few men among 800 women. I thought that it would be fun. Educational. Inspiring perhaps. Sadly, he saw a bunch of middle-aged women, shoved into leather pants and halter tops, flaunting back fat and delightful but embarrassing fake boobs, hoping to regain lost youth. How sad and how jaded. I'm really sorry that that is all he saw.

I saw my angels. I saw my friends. I saw love in action. I saw gorgeous women who've made a difference to me and to the community.

Relax, guy friend. You don't need to tell us about our faded beauty. We already know. Many of us who are involved with Newborn Hope have had heartbreaking experience with prematurity. We've also dealt with breast cancer, aging parents, learning name it. As a result, we don't worry too much about our saddlebags. Our chin hairs. Our wrinkled foreheads. Our sagging boobs. We'd rather revel in the potential and perfection of our children. And in the beauty and kindness of our aging friends.

So go screw yourself. You'll never again be invited to hang out with the ladies who lunch.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dolls and Trolls

After reviewing my slightly mean-spirited post about average guys sporting babes (remember Sybil and feel for her) I am compelled, as Marie, in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, to discuss the other side.

We've established that it is terrific for a man's ego to be sporting a gorgeous blonde on each arm. But what, what in the hell, would motivate a woman to go along with the plan?

It could be that the man is well endowed (a type of good news that travels very quickly, trust me). This is my theory behind David Spade's incredible success with Hollywood hotties. Why in the world would he, of all people, land Heather Locklear, among many sexy others? He is only 5'5" but it is my guess that he is hiding bigger and better things and every girl in the vicinity knows it.

It could also be money. Brandon Davis, Stavros Niarchos, Randy Spelling...the Hollywood trust funders always have cute girlfriends and seem to have plenty of fun. However, I dated a trust funder all through college and beyond. At some point, the aimlessness and sheer pointlessness of a self-centered easy existence began to wear on my psyche. I had to move on to greener (ha) pastures because, like Solomon, it felt like all was vanity.....nothing under the sun mattered.

No, power is the true aphrodisiac. There is nothing sexier or more alluring to me than a man who has power and influence. A man who knows what he wants and can easily get it. A man who exudes confidence and is surrounded by people willing and able to do his bidding. This, more than anything, has been my undoing. I love arrogant men. I love the big boys. And they love me.

This flaw of mine explains why I've spent most of my adult life somewhat alone....physically, emotionally, spiritually. Powerful men rarely have anything else to offer. They are not accessible. They are edgy. They are hostile. They are controlling. Conversations consist of carefully chosen phrases. Sex is a zero sum game. There are always conditions, clauses, opt outs.

I think I've learned a thing or two in the past few years. Real power is not tied to money or political/business influence. True authority lies in the power of one's convictions. A person who is passionate about something, anything really, has power. A person who is clear headed, rational, relational, loving and committed is a change agent. Someone I want to know. Someone I want to be around.

I won't be arm candy (I'm getting too old anyway). I don't give a whit about money or power. I want to associate with real people who have passion. People who are selfless, brilliant, committed, creative. This, more than anything, will bring me to my knees.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Trolls and Dolls

We've all seen it. The beautiful girl on the arm of a troll. A troglodyte. At best, a man who is physically average. We never see the opposite, do we? A gorgeous man paired up with a fat ugly girl. Sometimes there is still a first wife in the picture, pretty average by today's media standards...the high school sweetheart, the smart one, probably athletic, the one with the good DNA. The child-bearing thing can complicate the beauty pursuit significantly. Every man knows that he wants brilliant and competent children. Even his daughters. But once that goal is met, all bets are off. Enter the trophy wife. Arm candy for the insecure man.

Why is this? Let me enlighten you (and I claim expert status here for a variety of reasons). My favorite book (and all-time bestseller) says that man is the glory of God, meaning that man is God's highest achievement, a source of honor and great praise. Well guess what? The Bible also says that woman is the glory of man. Woman, more than anything else, can bring happiness and respectability to a man. That is why the experts say that the happiest people on the planet are married men.

Hooters girls, models, women who are defined by beauty and little else, and whose personalities reflect that, don't make great mates for intelligent evolved men. Besides, outward beauty will undoubtedly fade. Real beauty will not.

I think most men figure this out because statistics show that 80% of second marriages to Marla Maples ultimately fail.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I was holding my little boy (at almost 9, not so little anymore) on my lap the other day and I was looking at his hand. His long fingers, still slightly pudgy, tapering to perfect little fingernails. I took off his sock and looked at his little foot, again with clear beautiful skin and perfect tiny toenails. He, of course, thought I was weird for doing this but my thoughts were, “What if I never got to see this again? What if I could never hold this warm little hand, or look into these lovely clear green eyes? Or touch these sweet adorable freckles?” I’m not sure how I’d ever get my head off the pillow.

I once knew a woman who lost a young child to an accident. She held the toddler in her arms for hours after his death and when the nurses finally insisted that she give up the body she asked if she could undress him so she could look at him one last time. She said she wanted to memorize every inch of him so she’d never forget. Especially his little fingers and toes.

The mothers and fathers in war-torn countries encounter this nightmare every day. They’re forced to live with the horror and the guilt of not having protected their babies from harm. Their children become statistics that are reported to us daily, but, believe me, as a parent I can tell you that a child is not a statistic. Even a grown up child.

Oppose war…any day, any place, any time….It’s not worth it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Confession

Okay, I'm finally ready to admit it. I have penis envy.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Dear Principal

Dear Principal,
I attended the Halloween festivities at school this week and was left afterward with a feeling of sadness because it seemed that the school has lost some of its spirit, maybe a little of its heart. The children were quiet, especially during the classroom parties. The parents and teachers seemed reserved.

It is my impression that you do not respect the fact that our school has long-held traditions. Because it is your first year, you believe that you have a clean slate and will create your own traditions. I completely agree that you should leave your mark on our school. But that will, and should, take a number of years to accomplish. Mrs. Principal, do you know us? Do you know who I am or who my children are? I have had kids in the district for 16 years. My father-in-law was a former superintendent. My mother-in-law a teacher and principal for years. All three of their children were valedictorians! My mother taught for 30 years in our parochial school system. Maybe you should learn our names, even a little more about what we value, before you tell our children that they need to walk with their hands behind their backs and stay quiet in the lunch room. Had there been a problem with lunchroom chaos? With dangerous hands? If so, I had never heard about it.

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says "Rules without Relationship Lead to Rebellion." I put it there so I would remember that arbitrary rules, rules that don't allow opinions to be respected and honored, even with my own 6 children, will lead to insurrection. It may be subtle or it may be overt, but damage will be done. Respect for authority will be compromised. Institutional authority is generally obeyed, rarely respected.

You have come into our midst and enacted many new laws. You've erased our artwork. You've discontinued our weekly school assembly, changed the recess schedule, altered things in the cafeteria. You've changed our long-held Halloween traditions. My children, in the past, have never expressed a hint of reticence at my directive to load into the car and head off to school. On Tuesday, a parent ran up to me and grabbed my arm. "Is it true you're pulling your kids out of the school? My daughter is so upset." "No," I replied. "Not true at all. I guess it's just wishful thinking." To know that my children are unhappy with their school and are longing for change is upsetting to me. That's why I'm speaking up.

Mrs. Principal, I know feel you were brought in to accomplish a task. I understand that there was a vocal contingent of parents worried about CSAP scores. But let's be brutally honest. Our CSAP scores will not improve until we stop accepting so many out-of-district students. I know this. I spent 8 years at another D-12 school. I know that there is no difference in curriculum. I know that there is no difference in teacher quality or parental involvement. There are, however, fewer kids from other districts. Fewer kids from lower socio-economic classes. I am not advocating that we do this. I like the fact that our school has more diversity than many others in the district. I think it enhances my children's education.

Besides, can you show me a connection between no Halloween masks/no AARFF/no BRAG/no recess/safe hands/quiet lunchrooms/orderly parking and higher test scores? I rather doubt it. Eliminating fun and freedom is not going to solve the "problem." There is, however, a direct connection between socio-economic status and test scores. Truth needs to be on the table before our CSAP scores will increase.

I understand that every authority figure has her detractors. I have found, in my roles as parent, boss, committee chairman, that respect and openness to tradition and to differences of opinion, make an effective leader--a leader who can and will shape the future and, at the same time, preserve the morale and the joy that should be inherent in every elementary school.

I, and certainly other parents, would be happy to meet with you and discuss how we can work together to preserve what we've built over the years and still allow you to accomplish your goals. Please call me if you'd like to set up a time to get together.

Thank you,

Marie Walden

Pot smokers rejoice!

Colorado Amendment 44 would legalize possession of an ounce of marijuana by individuals 21 or older. If it passes, it could be a first step in a long journey toward a rational and effective federal drug policy. It could generate a national debate about drugs, about civil liberties, about lots of important things.

A few days ago, I said to myself, "Oh, Marie. Don't get your hopes up about 44. This is Colorado. This is the land of the God Squad. The permanent homeland for a buttload of Jesus freaks (not the cute hippie-types). The promised land for tens of thousands of self-righteous nimrods (a biblical place, by the way). There is no way in hell that this will pass."

Then, in what can only be defined as an act of divine radicalism, or perhaps it was cosmic libertarianism, Mike Jones happened. And everything changed.

Perhaps this coming Tuesday, as thousands and thousands of the Colorado flock are still wringing their hands and lamenting Chief Ted's vision quest along the straight and narrow path (wink, wink), they'll feel too sheepish (ha! I'm slayin' myself) to pull the little "no" lever. Perhaps at the Holy Spirit's prompting they'll experience a new sense of tolerance, of empathy. The scales will fall from their eyes as they wrestle with the complexity and difficulty and joy and pain and duplicity and faithfulness of fallen humanity. Maybe an ounce of pot won't seem like such a big deal.

Party at my house.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Ted Haggard crucified

If today's bombshell doesn't prove the existence of God, nothing will. Perhaps Pastor Ted should have listened to God's inerrant words a tad more closely. Maybe he should've spent some time memorizing the verse clearly stating that "pride goeth before a fall." Biblically, pride is considered arrogance. And I'd say there is something inherently arrogant about a man who claims to speak for God on a daily basis, to millions of people. Yet this same man can very conveniently ignore many of Jesus' words, you know those that are written in red, like "blessed are the peacemakers..."

Now we find that there may be a whole slew of God's inerrant words that Pastor Ted conveniently ignored. For shame.

I expect to see all of you heathens in church on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

For You

Some days as fierce as a tiger.
Others as fragile as spun sugar.
Some days as close as skin.
Others as distant as Polaris.
Some days an easy stroll down a shaded path.
Others scree and crampons and dangerous crevasses.
You never know.
I never know.
Don't give up on me.