Goodbye, Oh-Twelve

2013-01-01T15:03:57-08:00Categories: politics|Tags: , , , , |

What if our New Year’s Resolutions looked like this? One: Be kind to yourself. Two: Be kind to others. The end. That’s it. Saved again, by the Golden Rule! You could add a little fine print. For example, re being kind to yourself: you could vow to truly ban all trash talk, especially the real F-words: fat and failure. Re being kind to others, that tends to be a whole lot easier once you’re being kind to yourself. Although I have often found this to work the other way round: doing something kind for someone else can be the quickest way to distract yourself from self-trashing. Once you’ve enacted your Golden Rule two-resolution package, you’ll have so much more time to reflect on the ways in which 2013 is going to be way, way better than 2012. Not that Oh-Twelve didn’t have its high points. Election night, anyone? But with apologies to Republicans—especially those who might be feeling that their party has been hijacked by a loud and deluded minority—the biggest way in which 2013 is going to be dramatically different from 2012 is that there will be no election night hanging over our heads for ten out of the twelve months. I know, the Republican primaries had a certain amount of entertainment value, as did Clint Eastwood and the chair, but WOW: however you may have voted, aren’t you glad it’s all over? I am. Especially after traveling to France and Finland last spring, a trip that was one of the highlights of my year. [...]

May Day in Helsinki

2012-05-09T07:07:03-07:00Categories: midlife, politics, travel|Tags: , , , , |

“Demand less!” shouted a tall, stylish blond into a megaphone, right above my ear. “Love is free!” I spent this May Day in Finland, where there was no vandalism, no mayhem; just several thousand marchers strolling in the sunshine, waving signs and shouting the occasional non-threatening slogan. Occupy your mind. Demand life, not capitalism. Spring comes to everyone! Spring is a big deal in a country that straddles the Arctic Circle. May Day is as much about celebrating snowmelt and sun as it is about politics. In Helsinki, May Day begins the night before, with a giant celebration of education in this country with one of the most acclaimed public school systems in the world. High school graduates—of all ages, not just this year’s grads—don their traditional white, nautical-style school caps and throng the center of the city. A cap is thrown on the head of everyone’s favorite mermaid statue, champagne bottles start popping, and spring, graduation and May Day are all officially welcomed.  The next morning, the party continues with the all-city May Day march, after which everyone adjourns to lavish picnics in the central Kaivopuisto Park. I marched and picnicked with my sister, my niece and my Finnish friend Kirsi.  Kirsi and I met 25 years ago, when she was an exchange student in Seattle and an intern at the TV station where I worked. Now, she’s a producer of documentaries and TV programs in Helsinki. She credits that long-ago intern opportunity with launching her career. I credit her with giving me an experience [...]

Goodbye, Oh’leven

2011-12-28T09:22:20-08:00Categories: midlife, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Hey 2011.  Can I call you Oh’leven? You have been quite a year.  The Year of the Protester, according to TIME Magazine.  I know: I mentioned this last week.  But I’m so not done dwelling on the significance of it.  Oh’leven will forever be the year millions of people—in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, New York, Oakland, Seattle—decided to stand up, move, do something.  Because sitting out the recession wasn’t working very well.  Neither was waiting for aging dictators to die, or democracy to just happen. I regret I did not personally take part in the Occupy Movement, which was at its height during our family’s craziest time in 2011: the Big Move from the house we’d been in for 21 years to a smaller home two miles away.  Instead of taking to the streets, we were taking endless loads of stuff to Goodwill.  But our move felt, in its humble way, like part of this larger story.  When our house sold, we traded in a big mortgage with a big bank for a small mortgage with a small bank.  We traded in a big house that served us well while raising children for a townhome that will serve us perfectly in our Restless Nest years.   We occasionally sold but mostly gave away all kinds of things we no longer needed—basketball hoop, couch, futon, rowing machine, clothes, sheets, towels—to people who need them more.  We chose a neighborhood where we can walk and take light rail.  When we tell people about making these choices, they get it, because [...]

Solstice

2011-12-21T08:58:20-08:00Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

A ribbon of orange lifts the night-sky curtain: it’s the literal crack of dawn here in Seattle, eight minutes before eight a.m.  Welcome to the week of the winter solstice, when every day tops out at just under eight and a half hours. It’s dark.  Even during our eight hours of daylight, it’s pretty dark: the winter sun is no match for these thick winter clouds.  We were lucky, the first half of December, which local weather expert Cliff Mass says was the driest on record.  But dry or not, this is the season when we can’t take light for granted.  We have to create it ourselves. And so we do: we string lights on our houses.  We drag trees inside, and cover them with lights.  We build fires and light candles.  We go to brightly lit stores and malls.  Sometimes it feels a little manic, this chasing after light.  This denial of the 15 and a half hours of daily darkness that is really what December is about. Darkness feels dangerous. Uncomfortable. Blind.  Who wants it? Who needs it? We do.  Think of how we all started out: it took us nine solid months of darkness before we were ready to open our lungs and breathe, open our eyes and see.  Newborn babies know darkness, not light.  They only learn to fear the dark as they rely on their eyes more and more to tell them where their parents are; where safety and comfort lie. Seeds lie deep underground in the winter, content and dormant.  Their [...]