Thursday, March 25, 2010

Press Pass

With all the buzz lately about health care reform, I feel I have become desensitized to the press and news coverage. I am a reasonably well-read person and I take an active interest in the politics and news of the day, watching nightly news as well as some CNN and FOX News. I read Time, The Economist and other magazines weekly. I have to say though, with all there is in the world to talk about, does every newscast and every newscaster have to drone on and on about this health care package? Some are positively gloating while others are reporting as if it's the beginning of the end for the U.S. Like it or love it, we just can't seem to stop hearing about it. Therein lies the problem.

I think the immediate nature of todays news dissemination has rendered the public immune to big news stories and to caring about them. The sheer volume of news coverage today is staggering. You can't hardly turn on a television or even go to your mailbox without being inundated with political rhetoric. If a story breaks, all networks and large cable news organizations have the news within minutes. Forget daily newspapers - by the time the daily paper comes to me I know all the news of the day (before). It's too late! It's both tiring and overwhelming sifting through the minute-by-minute firehose of information coming at us. So much so that I, for one, get to the point where I just don't care about ANY news coverage. It's all too much.

It would be easy to be scared silly by the nightly news. There is nary a human interest or "good news" story to be told any more. Those nicities are left to the last 60 seconds of a newscast so viewers turn off on a "good" note. Never mind the other 30-60 minutes just watched of murders, scandals, political in-fighting and sensationalism that was just paraded in the name of "coverage". About all the local coverage is good for is weather, and I can get that on my iphone with a few touches to a screen. I don't have to wait until the middle of a newscast to find out if it will rain tomorrow.

Sure, there are plenty of news junkies out there. My husband is one of them. He flips between nightly newscasts (he actually DVR's the 6pm news!), CNN and FOX, for hours at a time. I can watch for a little while, but after a time it just seems repetitive and like the anchors are trying to CREATE the news, not just report it. What passes for coverage these days would be closer to nightly debate over news rather than the telling of facts. I really don't care what the anchor's opinions are - I just want to know the facts about what has happened both locally and nationally. How the news-addicted can watch for hours on end baffles me. How can one be shocked by anything if shocking things are being reported hourly, over and over?

I think that is why there is such a disconnect between lawmakers and the public, for instance. People are so tired and worn down by debate that they just don't want to hear it any more. So health care "reform" passed and was signed into law. So our freedoms have been eroded in the name of the "rights" of SOME people to have health coverage. It's just one more piece of bad news to add to the pile we receive hourly in the news. People have become complacent and almost accepting that government will do what they want regardless of the wants of the people, and that bad stuff will just keep happening no matter what, so why bother to care or really do anything about it?

My belief is that more than anything else, the PRESS are to blame for American complacency. So much "news" is sensationalized, over-reported and created by zealous news organizations trying to create market share. Americans need to wake up! It is one thing to have genuine debates so the public may come to their own (voting) decisions. It's another entirely to try to sway public interest in any particular political direction if you operate a news organization. Unless that group is touted as members of a certain party or outlook, viewers need to take notice that the information coming at them is blatently, systematically and repetitively biased.

The public is being buffaloed, and they are allowing it to be done. This administration is getting sweeping legislation passed in the name of "rights", while taking them away, with the help of liberal media delivering their message without a dollar of advertising money changing hands. I hope people are beginning to wake up and get mad. I am. Once indifferent to politics and governmental machination, I can no longer abide the eroding of constitutional values and principles that our nation was founded under. The light has gone on for me with regard to the press. I'm taking a pass. We have a voice and need to use it in November. No longer will I abide my freedoms being taken from me by our government, or will I ever listen to another newscast as factual. I've had it, and I hope others have too. Our future depends upon it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Red Wine and Politics

I live in a largely conservative household. My husband is a stanch conservative, as is my best friend. I would say I have more moderate leanings, but overall share many conservative philosophies. My son, as well as many of my friends are liberals, and some of them are ALL THE WAY liberals. It seems like under this particular administration (Obama) there has been so much political discussion in our household - MUCH more than any previous administration, to be sure, and with MUCH more vehemance and fervor on both sides of the aisle, as it were. Add in a liberal dosing of red wine over a meal...and presto! Heated debate ensues, EVERY time.

I am fine with political debate, provided both sides actually LISTEN to the other's point of view and bring their points to bear with an "inside voice". I absolutely deplore when these discussions become standoffs at increasing decibels and with facts and figures being lobbed in like grenades. Because no one around here is an expert, to be sure, but BOY OH BOY do they keep throwing those fire bombs at each other. I have to confess that when discussions ramp up in this manner I am apt to just shut down and go in another room. Particularly if this happens at my own dinner table. I just can't stand when voices begin to raise and talk over one another (like a bad day on "The View") and NO ONE is listening to a word each other has to say, only thinking of what they plan to say next.

OK, I get it that the country is fired up. Things have NOT gone as promised. (Change? WHAT change?) It is scary how messed up government has gotten in this country. It doesn't matter what party a person is affiliated with, EVERYONE who is in government gets jaded and sucked into a vortex of red tape, politicking and personal gain. The only logical thing is to throw every last one of them out and start fresh. Too bad it can't be done in one fell swoop. Because I'm really tired of getting agitated during what should be peaceful meals. No one is making sense any more. No one talks reason or puts ideas out that are doable, incremental and in synch with the populace. It doesn't even happen in my own dining room! How in the world will those who SHOULD know better can't even get it done?

Perhaps red wine should be banned from meals. It seems to contribute to the idiot factor around here. There are SO many things to talk about in the world - why muck up a good meal with political sparring? Maybe dinners should be planned with -pre-determned subjects known to all to spark real discussions. And it is frustrating that political knowledge by the masses is gleaned in increasing numbers by the talking heads on television - CNN, network news, FOX, etc. Those aren't NEWS casts any more. Not like when I was young. Everything has become so editorialized. It's like the nightly news is one giant op-ed. I don't need that creeping into my dining room. It's so annoying and even insulting when I've spent half a day cooking for a group, only to have the meal conversation take a huge downturn with the inevitable veering towards the politics of the day, courtesy the second of third glass of Mike Ditka's "Kick Ass Red".

Give us cooks a break, people. Back off on the controversial discussions when the meal is still on the table. At least in the old days they guys retired to a library with cigars and port to begin the heavy debate. Dinner should be pleasant for all of us. Not that we ladies (and some gentlement) can't handle the discussion - just perhaps not in the initial stages of digestion. I'd like my steak to stay put, thank you very much. Certainly there are subjects of note that may be discussed at a table without causing rifts, arguements and raised voices before dinner plates are cleared.

Time and place for everything you politicos. Time and place for everything. We don't have to die on every hill and certainly don't have to make every meal a "learning" opportunity for the other side. Go easy on the red and perhaps pay respects to all present. Not everyone wants in on your bucking bronco of a debate. Some of us perfer to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labors, saving the wide ride for later. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Creative Process

As I mentioned in the last entry, I have not been writing in a few months. It's not that I haven't wanted to write or thought about writing; I definitely have. Inspiration has been a problem, what with a whole lot on my mind and the minutae of day-to-day life overtaking any creative juices tha may have been brewing.

For the last year or so I have reconnected with a friend via phone and facebook who is a talented, brilliant writer, musician, poet - a "renaissance" man, as it were. Our conversations have meandered from the daily doings of our lives to the arts and the creative process of late for both of us. I have valued these talks more than he knows, because they have lead me back to writing again and to think/wonder and create, which frankly I have been on autopilot for now many years past. We are similar souls, I think, though our politics and ages differ greatly. A true friend, he has bouyed me up during a very difficult passage of my life. I am grateful beyond words. He is a creative force I admire so much.

As such, one of our recent conversations revolved around creative blocks. For me, writer's block is a more apt description. I have come to think about creativity as a river. There are times when it flows with great gushes, spraying forth with such force and vigor as to liken a tidal wave. Other times, as of late, the river has been dammed up by the stones and mortar of worry, sickness, mundane tasks, family, work, and just plain stuff, so that all that is getting through is an occasional drip. It has been my ongoing personal challenge to remove those obstacles in such as way as they cannot collapse and jam up the flow again. It seems like it should be easy. It isn't.

I am one of those people others may consider a "go to" person. Need a little cash? Go to.... Need consolation? Go to.... Need help with a project? Go to.... Need a volunteer to fill in? Go to.... Need X amount of chores/errands run? Go to.... Need, need, need. My problem (and shouldn't it be obvious) is that I have a very difficult time saying no, and protecting my time and energy. Because if I think there is a need, then I think I should do the "christian" thing and helping out. In helping others I feel validated and valued I suppose, and on some level, liked/loved a bit more because of my efforts. But as my counselor says, that's messed up. (Well, she doesn't say it exactly that way, but it boils down to that.) Now I know for sure that life doesn't actually work this way (that love, respect, etc are earned by doing for others), and I have been taken advantage of WAY too many times to count by bosses, friends, family, associates, and so on, proving just that point. The problem with being a GO-TO is that it leaves little left for my own real needs, aspirations and goals. Everyone elses's come fiirst. And I really don't feel any more loved than I ever did. Sometimes less, actually.

It is fairly obvious that some things are going to have to change drastically if I am going to achieve my creative goals. First of all, in any creative process I think that practically there has to be some objective set. Well, for me, anyway. I function much better under deadline - it keeps me on task. Years ago I went to a Franklin Planner seminar that was not only about using the planner, but mapping in personal goals to the planning of time. I have never forgotten that speaker or the message, though until recently, I had forgotten the goal I said I wanted to accomplish at the time I took that class. It is now some 15 years later and I am no closer to achieving that goal, which is a first draft of a novel idea I've had for some time. "Some time" being the last 18-20 years. So that begs a whole lot of introspection, methinks.

Perhaps it's just that I am afraid to write? My father always said "never put anything in writing.". Of course, he's a lawyer, so go figure, right? I kind of took that to mean never-ever write down something you FEEL. Trouble is, you have to feel to write. It doesn't matter whether or not you are Dr. Seuss or Dr. Oz. Something has to motivate you, get you out of your head and onto paper. For me, it absolutely is about feeling something. So it will take pushing through my head and those paternal warnings to get this done. It's going to take dusting off past hurts and allowing them to run their course. It will take courage - to boldly go where I haven't before, to put myself out to the universe and not care what comes back, only that I have put it out there. THAT is the creative process.

And yes, setting goals is an important component that I cannot overlook from that long-ago Franklin Planner seminar. If the tasks are scheduled into my calendar, then I can find the time necessary to inch closer to a tangible realization of my goal. When my friend and I spoke a week or two ago, I reminded him that we can't let that stone and mortar settle in from the minutae of daily life - either of us. The river needs to flow. I need to take my own advice, certainly. He has since put pen to paper. I have yet to do so, other than here. But his action has inspired me to take like action. I CAN find the time if I just plan it. I will find the time to make a difference not in someone else's life, but in my own. At the end of the day, I'm the one I have to live with, right?

When they are planting me in the ground some day, I don't want to be remembered as just that "GO-TO" girl. I really want my life's work to be more tangible. I don't want fame - I'm far too shy for that. I do want my stories read, if only by a few people. (But being published WOULD be sweet!) I do want others to say that I made them think and maybe even feel with my words. I'm no spring chicken any longer. And time's a-wasting. So Paul, my friend, if you read this, know it's YOUR words that have motivated me to take the chance. Now or never, baby, now or never.

Pupipies and Patience

Well it has been some two months since my last post. Much has happened in my life these last sixty days, including a new puppy, Gunner, who is a Shih Tzu-Toy Poodle mix. He is adorable and exasperating, all at once. Playful and oddly feral, as all newborns are, I suppose, regardless of species.

It's taken about 15 months to dive back into the doggy pool after the loss of my gentle (gigantic) lab, Jake. I'd actually forgotten this puppy stage, and maybe never actually have gone through it quite like this before either. Neither of the two previous dogs I have owned have been this small, for one. At just nine weeks when he was adopted, Gunner was a newborn in every sense, including making endearing suckling noises when he sleeps. (Awwwww.) When my lab or the Siberian Husky (Crystal) before him first came home they were more like 12 to 16 weeks of age. Both of these dogs were fully able to be walked on leashes right away. Gunner is just now becoming used to and big enough (at now five and a half pounds) to walk on a loose leash. He will be 3 months old on the 20th.

So instead of walking, we have been training to what has affectionately become known around here as "the pee pad". Surprisingly, he took pretty quickly to this concept, minus the occasional spite pee he makes when he's mad at me. He has the hang of going No. 2 there as well, though sometimes manages only to get the front paws on the actual pad. (Ewww.) The messes aren't huge though, so it has been manageable. Honestly it's easier with the pad then getting dressed myself in the wee hours of the morning to walk and walk and walk and wait until he becomes "ready" to do his business.

What is more frustrating is the chewing. My husband remembers the lab, Jake chewing everything in site, and I guess I vaguely recall that. This little guy has a fondness for shoes. I catch him dragging my winter boots that are as big as he is by the tongue of the boot through my family room to flop down in a heap with his treasure at the end of the task. Of course, I take it awa to the boot tray in the back hallway, he following me and dragging it right back again. This will go on for several attempts until some other footwear or toy distracts him. What I do not like is when he bites at my fingers. Those little baby teeth are pointy! I am not sure how to break him of the nipping/biting thing just yet.

Although having a pet is time consuming, sometimes smelly and frustrating, it is a marvel how quickly they adapt to family life. I just am loving seeing that little face look at me with such love and trust and loyalty. ONLY with a dog is there this kind of experience. Right now my little rump roast is asleep at my feet, content to crash anywhyere, as long as I am nearby. How wonderful that another being is that devoted to being near me! He is my new treasure.

I will have to be patient while he learns and grows, to wipe up the messes and repair damages. It's why I waited in a way, to adopt a new puppy. In my selfishness I didn't want to get up earlier in the morning to attend to another being, or have to do the cleanup and maintenance necessary either. The decision and commitment that it takes to enter into the adoption is a little daunting. Once past the cuteness factor, the poop literally hits the fan and reality of what you've done settles in. I can say now it's worth it, because just looking a that face is reward enough. I'm a mom again!