Sunday, September 18, 2016

Christy's Fireside Chat

I realize a fireside chat seems silly on the wane of a ferociously hot Sunday, but the light in the sky has changed. There's a different charge in the air, and it ushers in fall. The changing of the season. And the ramp up to a nasty election cycle. I have a few thoughts, and I really hope more of you agree than don't. I suspect I'm right, so let's imagine we've just lit the first fire of the season. Let's get cozy, relaxed and honest.

These people are crazy

My thought.  The scary presidential election is not about scary candidates. It's about scary voters. Here's why.
  1. Many people are simply uneducated, and basically illiterate. No need to read when the mobile device will feed you a video instead.
  2. Reality TV isn't real, but since apparently, no one knew that, the presidential election seems real.
  3. Nobody is listening to smart Republicans, and the Democrats are simply trying to hold it together.
  4. Your average Republican doesn't hate your average Democrat, and visa versa, so stop with the drive by paranoia.
  5. Putin is not our friend.  ....ever. 

A "regular" guy shoots a terrorist

This weekend was crazy.  Three separate attacks in three different places. One off duty police officer kills a terrorist. Mark one up for the second amendment people. You won that one fair and square, and I'm glad you did. However, I really don't want a leader who goes all loudmouth and knee jerk. Trump is too stupid and egotistical to know he's being played.  I know people think Clinton will make hubris, but there's something that tells me that when she loses her shit, she'll castrate ISIS. Charlton Heston will rise from the dead to watch it happen.

Different is precariously close to being a bad thing. Different blended with uncertainty, fear and economic crisis = crazy asshole taking over your country. His name was Hitler. Find a few videos and "read" about him. Don't go there, America.

I heard a retired Air Force officer say Iraq was the wrong war. This isn't a casual maneuvering of people's lives. Our military shouldn't be pawns to old vendettas and misguided revenge plans. And for god's sake, I have yet to live through a presidential election where the winner didn't promise to take care of our soldiers, and not one of them on either side of the aisle has come through. 

Your money will be fine - It's the world you should be worried about

I really do believe this is the foreign policy election. Big business runs our domestic policy, so Trump isn't going to bring anything new to the table, and Clinton won't either. However, the world is so interconnected because of globalization, and we are really ripe for another tragic episode in world history.

The dinner table looks the same around the world - This is Budapest.

The Syrian refugees, the French victims of terrorism, the defiant Hungarians, the financially fragile Brits. Whether Americans want to admit it or not, those people really do matter to our well being. You don't want an American President who praises Putin. That is stupid. That is weak.

Different skin color and accents and languages don't make people bad. Power makes people turn bad. A Syrian refugee isn't the problem. A convoluted three-way circus of foreign policy in a violent country that harbors terrorists is the problem. Clinton won't fix it, but Trump doesn't understand it. Trust me. Putin can't wait to give the Donald a worldwide wedgie.

We learn history for a reason

Back to literacy. Review your history. Relearn it. If you don't read anymore, check out the Smithsonian channel.  It's the way the History channel used to be before it fell prey to reality TV. Watch the ancient battles between the Christians and Muslims. Watch the Vikings terrorize Europe. Watch kings cut a deal with the Pope. Pay attention to the 1930s in Germany. Watch the isolationist U.S. get blasted at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. 

America won't be great by staying home and singing LaLaLa, and frankly nobody is going to pay $100 for a t-shirt because it was made in the USA. Don't like? You shop at Wal-Mart and Old Navy. You support Globalism. It's been on the rise since the early 20th Century. TPP is not a revolutionary concept.

Stop being so stupid. Stop posting stupid opinions on Facebook when you have no research or facts to back it. Stop being so stupid. If this country wants to be "great again," then everyone has to stop being so stupid. You still have time to make a truly informed decision on election day.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Today is a Good Day to Be a Human Being

Here it is. Can you believe it? The 15th anniversary of 9/11. Just like everyone else, I remember exactly where I was. I watched the towers fall. I saw shocking videos, via world news reports, of the jumpers.

...and that's really where I want to put my my prayers and my intention. The jumpers. Don't get me wrong. Every single image. Every single story makes me cry. But the people who fell. By accident, while trying to climb away from the fire, or by choice. They had 10 seconds to wrap it up and know that their time in this space was over.

That's a long time when you're life is ending unexpectedly.

I wish I could reach them in the quantum universe and say, "wow. it's so crazy and mean and scary and violent today. And I want you to know, they got that guy. They killed him."

Falling Man has haunted me for about a year. He's the person that I wish for time travel to meet. He's the person that I wish for Angels to hold his hand. He's so graceful. His family should hold him close, and I know they do. He is triumphant, and I think he looks like he beat the terrorists, the radicals, and the hate.

I hope the presidential candidates remember him today, and that both of them can honor him by showing the kind of grace in their campaigns that this man's final seconds show he must have had buried deep in his soul.

It's a good time to take a few minutes and think. Every news report, every news broadcast, every Facebook post does not have to be a bloodbath. That happened 15 years ago.

Be kind. Send love into the past, the present and the future, and do no forget the jumpers. They are messengers of change and courage and decisiveness. Some may have been Muslim. Some may have been undocumented Mexicans.

Remember that. America, and especially New York, represents opportunity, hope, and a melting pot of unity that celebrates our differences - because without them, we would be the homogeneous evil that became Nazi Germany.

Love everyone who died. Love the heroes. Love the families. They are a diverse religious, international, politically diverse, socially and economically diverse people. That, my friends, was the real America.  Falling man, with his dark skin, was America. He will forever be a lesson in grace and defiance and unity to me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Suburban Greenbelts and Graffiti

Tammy and I worked our butts off for most of the Labor Day weekend, but we did take an hour long hike in the greenbelt at the end of our street on Saturday. We live in a nice, mostly upper middle class suburban neighborhood in Southwest Austin.

The houses are basically neat and well kept. It's a very quiet place to live. There's an Alamo Drafthouse and NXNW craft brewery less than a mile away. We have an indie steampunk style restaurant within biking distance. We can put on fake beards and man buns and peddle down there for pretentious and slightly average food.

The HEB is merchandised for engineers, soccer moms, and doctors. The streets are wide, free of potholes, and lined with wide bike lanes. Circle C Park is to the south. Dick Nichols Park is to the east, and our little greenbelt is to the West. We can bike to the Circle C park, and walk to our greenbelt, follow the many secluded winding paths, and end up at Dick Nichols Park. There, we can swim in a nice pool, run or bike along the path that is dotted with workout stations, play sand volleyball, play tennis, shoot some baskets, or watch kids play soccer or baseball.  All sounds really utopic doesn't it?

A quiet walk in the woods

It's easy to get lost in quiet green spaces in the better neighborhoods in Austin. They're not of the stunning visual scale of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, but they're much quieter, and they do the job when someone like me thinks she can't take one more minute of city or suburban life.

Tammy recognized my near urban breakdown on Saturday, and she marched me down the street and into the greenbelt for a quiet walk. It did the trick. I usually stay on the well groomed cinder path when I'm down there, but this time, we cut off into the woods, towards the dry creek, and followed the volunteer arteries that zigzag their way towards Dick Nichols Park.

After an hour of walking through sprinkles, bird songs, and fragrant wild plants, we ended up under a bridge on Beckett Road, right at the park.  The city has even added handrails under the bridge. We decided they were for idiots who get caught in a flash flood while hiking the green belt. Either that, or it's a secret place to teach your kid to roller skate.

The ugly truth about the suburbs

I think most people know that suburbs are full of liars. People who keep perfect front yards, drive luxury cars and respectable family style SUVs, have adorable dogs, and blank-eyed and frowning teenagers. To drive around this part of town, suggests that by living here, all will be well, no matter what.

People don't teach their kids to roller skate under that bridge. No one gets washed away in a flash flood, but I would definitely say there are some children who are floating away from the hard earned facade their parents have created.

As Tammy and I entered under the bridge, we saw graffiti. Not gang tagging graffiti, but teenage girl stole her mom's purple spray paint and wrote profane and revealing phrases in neat cursive writing graffiti.

"F--- School." "(fill in the blank) me daddy." And so forth.  


So, let me tell you. There are people in my neighborhood that don't mow their backyards. From now on, every time I feel exhausted and strung out from not only mowing and edging my backyard, but cooking fresh meals nightly, teaching sixteenth notes during the 30 minutes of clarinet practice, using my free time to take a kid to the movies, listening to Tammy direct, interrogate, instruct, question, and expect respect from that same kid, I will think about the graffiti under the Beckett Road bridge. Tammy will keep spying on teenage text messages. I'll keep getting up and going to church; even though I'm not religious. And we'll both do everything we can to make sure the exterior of our house reflects the interior.

A well kept backyard requires more than lawn machinery. Now. I'm off to bed. There are home cooked meals, middle school conversations, homework help, and jobs to go to, and the week will feel long, but the yard will look as good as possible.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Thoughts from an Early Riser

September has arrived, and it precedes my favorite season. Fall. I wake up ready to live the day. I'm an early riser, and I don't remember when this happened to me. I used to stay up into the wee hours writing. Now, I'm awake before sunrise. My mind is churning at a crisp clip that makes my wife a little crazy. She's not an early riser.

Early Risers

Christy's thoughts at 6AM Saturday morning

Tanner - is a canine alarm clock. He keeps me in rhythm. He knows 5:30AM.  He can "hit the snooze" until 6AM. I start my Saturday morning by feeding the dogs.

Suburbia - is quiet at sunrise. However, Wendy isn't around the corner anymore, so I can't send a quick text that says, "want to meet me at Magnolia for breakfast?" I think suburbia might be more isolated than the country. At least a morning in the country is shared with birds, deer, cows, the sunrise, fish, frogs, and dogs.

Costco - should open before 9:30 on a Saturday. At least I could get that out of the way. We're down to the last two rolls of toilet paper, so it's fair to say I need to make an emergency run to Costco.

The River - is a people soup. The thought of throwing my kayak on the back of the truck and taking an early morning paddle is a thing of the past. When your city grows as fast as Austin, you are no longer an elite few early risers.  

Hike and Bike - is no different than mall walking these days. Population explosion takes the solitude out of it.

Rain  - means two years of delays on the Carmine property. I thought by now, I'd be rising early on a Saturday morning from a quiet cabin in the country.

Writing - is something I want to do more than once a week (I tried twice a week, and I found that work/life balance doesn't allow for it).

Quiet - is the benefit of early rising. It's so still and quiet right now that I can only hear a distant plane. Even the dog went back to sleep.

Thirteen - is the age of transcendence for girls. Twelve is the year a parent lives with an alien.  Thirteen is the emergence of someone who's actually fun to take to the movies.

Two hours - ago Tanner woke me up.  I've  had my coffee, and my mind is giving way to my body's desire to get up and get going.  

A bike ride - is a great way to burn off the morning, or at least kill an hour and a half until Costco opens.