One thing that I really like about being married to Chris is how well we can work together. We are super good at making decisions and making it happen.

I appreciated that decisive quality even before we were dating. When faced with a decision, he will make a choice and start on it right away. That is super attractive to me.

Because you know what I hate? Wasting time deciding. I used to work with some guys who spent every single day debating where they would eat lunch. I wanted to put my eyes out. I would rather go without food than discuss it so much. I do not want to waste my time like that.

Right now we are doing renovation on our garage. The construction workers are coming in and out, and of course the city inspection was an important milestone.

There was a moment when the permit was lost. Then it was found. And then there was this clean up and that. And the inspector arrived. The first thing he asked the workers, while signing the inspection paper, was “Are you the one doing that project up the hill?”

This is a small town. Our contractor has been in business for a long time. The inspector trusted their work on our site, and his mind went on to another one that he has some worries about.

No time wasted.

I am reading The Science of Trust by John M. Gottman right now, and he affirms that trust reduces the complexity of all transactions. In our tight-knit town, that is working well. The city inspector and the groups he inspects have a shorthand.

When Chris and I made our decision to renovate, we very quickly worked out what needed to happen and set out to make it happen. At this point we don’t need to discuss it. We check in about once a day, sometimes in brief texts and I know it is handled.

I trust him.

Truth be told, I trust him more than I trust myself. I can make a decision and revisit it a million times in day, even stupid things like what to wear or  what to say. My mind whirls around until I am heartily sick of my own head.

In his exploration of trust, Gottman expresses its value this way, “We don’t need to be continually testing our partner to see if this time we can trust him or her to tell the truth, keep promises, and think of our interests.”

I do trust my husband that way. Why don’t I trust myself that same way? I suppose I keep a record of wrongs I’ve done to myself. I choose to love my husband, so I don’t hold his failings against him.

If I trusted myself a little more, and chose to love myself the way I love others, I would save so much time and energy.


I am Here Now

It’s not the same song. It’s the same group. And it sounds so much the same.

I remember when I first listened to an album of this group.

I was seriously sick, mysteriously sick. I was in a room in Moscow, and I had been bitten by moscow mosquitos for more than a week. We had just missed our flight and I didn’t have enough dollars to get another ticket.

My parents had only agreed to let me and my brother go to Moscow because I had enough money to pay for tickets to get back if we had to pay in dollars.

But I had spent the money while in the big city. I didn’t have enough for pay for us to buy tickets to get back when the people who were supposed to get us back made us miss the flight.

Worse though, was that all my mosquitos bites had started to ache down to my bones. They had swollen, and then after I fell asleep at the school headquarters in Moscow they had all formed rings of white pus.

I had a hacking cough and I was stranded.

I think back at how dangerous that was. I lose my breath at how I wasnt’ scared enough at the time.

I was scared. But not scared enough.

I am here now. That was a long time ago.

The cough worsened, and lasted more than a month.

The mosquito bites evnetually drained and healed. They left some scars, and those places on my skin behaved differently for decades into the future.

And that is not the danger anymore.

I am here now.

But once. I was there.


at the end of my work day, I had a choice. I had to turn in these reports to a scary manager. Last week, she kept me late at work to tell me how I was doing the reports all wrong. So, I was nervous to sent them to her.

I thought. I will send them seconds before i leave, and then I will dash out the door.

Then I remembered, fear hides and contracts. Love expands. Love would send those reports and be ok with whatever happened.

I sent the reports right after I thought of them as being love.

Small choices. I chose love.


Several jobs back, I was assigned to work with an older woman. I wasn’t aware for the first several weeks, but I’m sure she knew right away: I was hired to replace her.

Of course, as I was trying to work out what needed to be done and how and when, I asked her for help. What struck me most about her what her presence.

She was not to be rushed. She invited me to sit down, and talk it over. I recall she kept a china teapot with matching cups at her cube. With a manner than impelled me to slow down, she would ask me what I needed and I made sure to speak very politely to her. After talking for some time about this and that, she would answer my work concerns with “I will send you the documents on that. We have it all worked out, don’t worry.”

She never did send me anything. Still. I wasn’t too mad. She owned her space, and no one rushed her about anything. This woman had charm. It pulled me up in my chair, no slouching.  She was warm, don’t get me wrong. I wondered how she would be concerned about whether I had eaten, while so obviously not getting me the documents I’d asked for.

Without her help, I was rushing frantically to pick up the pieces and glue them back together. I admired her style and wished I could be like her.

Then again, they probably wouldn’t have hired me on if I were.
I’m not that way.

I’m the wild child, running from one action to the next, never willing to wait if there is another option.

Let’s go look! Let’s go find out!

Not charming. I wonder if there is a place I could learn her sort of charm?

Funny thing, charm is somehow a feminine characteristic. Men are charming, but only to females. If a man behaves charmingly to other men, it would be seen as a con.

That may be because charm is inherently expectant. My co-worker expected that things would go her way. Indeed, they did. She found another better job in short order.

Charming ladies expect to have doors opened for them. They will wait for it. Me? I rush through, not bearing the loss of time.

There has to be more than one kind of charm. Mine is action oriented.


The Iliad

I’ve read excerpts of it, but I have decided it is time to go deep and read the whole thing. I’ve started and I have a ways to go to get to the end of The Iliad.

It’s a mythological tale, you know. And even before I get to the content, it’s mythological to me. The story itself is about the Greeks conquering the city of Troy. And the story of the story is huge to me.

Greeks were so compelling that the Romans swallowed them whole, and spread through their empire and the history of their empire a barely transformed version of the Greek myths and ideals. THEN the Romans were so compelling that the rest of their former empire swallowed their myths whole. It’s a mythological turducken.

Let me be clear. When I say the rest of the Roman Empire, I am talking about one part: Britain.

One of my English professors explained it this way. He came from an Italian family and his brother told him, “You will always have three identities. We are Italian because that’s our family. We are American because we were born here. And our identity will always be English; because that is the language we speak and read.”

Greek and Latin are so important to Englishness. For centuries the universities on that little island read and translated Greek and Latin texts. It influences every single schoolboy from England. Boys, because that’s how the world worked then. Girls had a different path.

I can feel that while reading the Iliad. I can know that my favorite authors long dead read these stories and thought about these heroic characters. I am in a timeless community of readers with this story.

The Trojan War did actually happen, it’s a true story. A true story rewritten to express the highest ideals of the Greek culture at the time.  Battle and Honor and Glory. Gaining the favor of the gods and battle prizes.

They spoke in beautiful description, sailing their beaked ships and burning thigh bones. This was not everyday speech. It was lofty and expressive. Who talks like that anymore?

Really, who? Honestly, ordinary people even then didn’t talk like that. This was high culture speech, even when it was new.

Who is talking high culture now? Who is aiming for the immortal?

I think of a speech of Winston Churchill, right before WW2:

We must not underrate the gravity of the task which lies before us or the temerity of the ordeal to which we shall not be found unequal. We must expect many disappointments, and many unpleasant surprised, but we may be sure that the task which we have freely accepted is one not beyond the compass and the strength of the British Empire and the French Republic…If these great trials were to come upon our island, there is a generation of Britons here now ready to prove itself not unworthy of the days of yore and not unworthy of those great men, the fathers of our land, who laid the foundations of our laws and shaped the greatness of our county.

So inspiring! Very high culture. And I can hear the heroes, Agamemnon and Achilles, in the words and cadence of this British leader’s words.

Of course, war always brings out speeches. My American president John F. Kennedy had a good speech for the general citizenry

Here is a piece of it:

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch had been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.

Yes. That’s what I’m talking about.

Still, those speeches were a long time ago—more than 50 years old. So much has changed since then. What are our highest ideals? What speaks to us as a higher calling? Who are our visionaries and prophets?

Most recently, Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech is an example of contemporary high ideals:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.


I also have heard Steven Foster Wallace in his Kenyon commencement speech (turned into a book):

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline and effort, and being able to truly care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative in unconsciousness, the default setting, the ‘rat race’-the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing

These three American men are dead, tragically, which lends pathos to their words. Pathos is an intensifier of profundity, and I will affirm these speeches are profound.

Let me stop here, dear readers, and apologize. I have brought to you in very quick succession, some of the greatest speeches and ideas that this past century contained. It is not fair, I know, and I am standing on lofty shoulders, leaping from peak to peak to explore another idea separate from the topics these speeches express. I am sorry if I give you altitude sickness.

I’m talking about cultural ideals, ancient and modern.  As I read the Iliad, and as I’ve compared it here to more modern idealistic expressions, I see one huge difference.

These modern speeches had one, or perhaps a small group, of authors.  They were also written in a relatively short period of time.

The Iliad was written by Homer. Except it wasn’t. That long epic verse was and refined over time. Many many hands were part of it, although it was so long ago it’s not clear which part got “improved” when. And the academics are still arguing.

My point though, is that this epic poem of high ideals was  an outgrowth of a group of people. Their ideals were static for long enough to endure refinement and preservation.

Our modern ideals are highly individual. Is that all we have time for now? Is that the new shape of the world?

Or do we lack the visionary poet to express the culture of a group?

Who talks that way anymore?


50th day of kindergarten

The kids are supposed to dress like the 50s. We did not buy Veronica a poodle skirt, although apparently a lot of other parents did.

Imagine. I don’t even know where to get such an items. Well. I do, the internet.

I asked Veronica last night how she likes school. She said she did, but she didn’t like the parts where she had to be quiet. She wanted to do what she wanted to do, not be quiet.

Hm. I tried to explain that it was the teachers’ turn to do what she wanted. That when she played with friends, they had to take turns doing what each person wants. And the quiet times are when it’s the teacher’s turn.

She is not sure about it.