Monthly Archives: November 2013

Hot dogs in the snow

When I was in college, we didn’t have peeps, posses, bronies, or BFFs. We did have good friends who knew how to have a great time. My circle of intimates seemed to be most adept at creating fun whether it was toilet papering someone’s dorm room, sliding down Bison hill on a meal tray from the cafeteria, playing Martian Scrabble, or having a picnic in the snow.

It was one of those icy cold, blustery days only found in Oklahoma (and sometimes Texas) with ice on the ground masquerading as snow. Most of the college students were huddled in dorm rooms or in the student center complaining about the weather. We decided to have a picnic. Complete with blankets on the ground, tomato soup, and hot dogs. Students scurrying from class to class, heads down, jackets clutched against the cold, gave us a quick glance and shake of the head. We could almost hear their thoughts: are they nuts?!

Maybe. But I’ve never been a fan of the been there, done that, got the T-shirt mentality. How blasé and how unfortunate for an individual to believe they’ve seen or done it all! No matter how many times I fly, I am still amazed at the variety outside my plane window, still thrilled at take off as gravity gently presses me against the seat, still enamoured of travel that one hundred years ago was beyond the scope of most individuals.

Life is too short to be cynical. Each opportunity has minute changes that make the experience unique and unrivalled with all previous experiences. I never tire of sunsets, watching clouds, or even reading the same book a second, third, or twelfth time. It’s the experience itself that brings joy, not the individual components. That’s why I will never tire of holding hands with my husband, telling my children I love them, marvelling at the new green of mesquite, or the dark green of oak leaves against a brilliant blue sky. It’s why I stop to catch a glimpse of the sliver of moon and teardrop of star, smile at a child’s laugh, breathe deep of the rich aroma of coffee in Books-A-Million and giggle with glee on a foggy day.

Ordinary life is fraught with excitement.

Enjoy the journey.

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As Solid As Air

Clouds have always fascinated me. Rolling landscapes of mountains, valleys, and fantastic cities. I ride in a plane and I want to touch the clouds, soar through them like Hiccup on Toothless and taste the cool mist. Clouds look so solid, yet are insubstantial. They hang in mid air, great escarpments of white with sharply defined edges that give way before great airplanes without hindrance. The great paradox. Like light. A wave and particle at the same time; solid white, yet composed of vivid colour.

Faith is another paradox. People reject faith because they can’t see it, hear it, taste it, or touch it when in reality faith surrounds them on a daily basis. It’s in the air we breathe, the light that warms us, the love that nurtures us. Without faith it is impossible to live.

I’m amazed at the number of folks who vigorously deny any type of real spiritual faith, but are proponents of ghosts, the power in crystals, or the ability of some star to determine my future. And what does this have to do with writing, you ask? Everything!

Writing comes from the heart, from our inner being, the place from which we draw our strength and faith. I’ve read a lot of technically perfect stories that lacked souls. I never made it very far past the first chapter. Those stories remind me of today’s actors and actresses. They lack depth. Most have never had a real job in their lives. They’re second or third generation and have spent their entire life living someone else’s life. They’re cookie cutters. Not so actors from a generation ago. They were carpenters, worked in offices, got calluses, and sweated to feed their families while trying to find acting work. Their characters are expressive because they have something inside to draw on. In the same way, writers without spiritual faith merely parrot what others say. They have nothing of their own to share. Someone once said that you can tell who a person is by what he reads. I say you can tell a writer by what he writes.

Faith is real. It’s as substantial as clouds, as visible as rainbows. My faith is as solid as the crags of Scotland, as verifiable as the air I breathe. Can I prove it? Probably not to a skeptic, any more than someone in the early 1800s could be convinced that germs travel through air.

I’m a student of history and I have discovered that the further a civilization gets from faith, the shallower the culture, the more vulgar and animalistic, the more Neanderthal. Music, art, and literature that stand the test of time are founded on faith. Everything else is vapor.

Because I LOOK like a terrorist

It happens every time I fly. Our last trip was no exception. Both coming and going I got frisked by a TSA officer at the airport. Because, of course, I look like a terrorist. I must fit the profile of a terrorist: female, middle age, overweight, with that certain glint in my eye that spells trouble.

I could understand if this happened once in a while, or even if I only flew once in a while. However, in the past three years, I’ve flown several times a year. Each time, every time, I get frisked. Apparently the scanner can’t tell if I’m carrying a weapon or not. Or maybe the TSA officials figure I won’t complain as much as someone else on the plane.

I have to admit that if those full body scanners can’t tell the difference between a roll of flab and a weapon of mass destruction, we’re in a lot of trouble.

As for complaining, I did quite vociferously–under my breath and to my husband, but I complained, nonetheless.

I realize the TSA folks are “just doing their job.” I might even believe it, if I hadn’t witnessed on more than one occasion the “frisk” victims tend to fall in a certain racial category. Our Congress makes a huge deal out of racial profiling, but what we have at airports is reverse racial profiling. If we’re going to have racial profiling anyway, why not focus on the real problem? Why should a tiny minority of troublemakers succeed in making TSA treat the rest of us like criminals?

Common sense would fix a lot of the problems in airport screening, but I’ve never accused Congress of having even a smidgeon of common sense. Of course, if congressmen had to fly like normal people and be frisked every time by TSA, I’m certain “common sense” would take root and flourish.

One of these days, I’m going to tape a doughnut to the back of my calf, or tape a package of crackers under my arm just to liven things up at the airport security.

Because of course I look like a terrorist.

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