Saturday, October 28, 2006

dear rush limbaugh

Gasp! What’s that you say? Michael J. Fox was “...acting...” in his recent political ads? "Off his meds...” to create dramatic effect? And "...shamelessly.." playing up his symptoms of Parkinson's Disease to stir "...sympathy"?

Well Fox has often said that disease is non-partisan and that he’s simply looking for a bi-partisan cure. So all politics aside, Mr. Limbaugh, it is you who should bow your self-aggrandized head in shame.

Are you capable of discussing any issue without resorting to the kind of playground spitefulness one might expect from insecure 13-year-old girls? You name-call, you marginalize, you spit venom and hatred; and you get downright nasty on a personal, petty level. If there was ever any doubt that you’re nothing more than a bigoted, headline-seeking redneck with his head down a sand hole, (hey you started this, let’s speak language you understand) then your latest outburst against Michael J. Fox and his very real disability should leave no-one questioning.

With the exception of a few gutless wonders sniggering in agreement alongside you, the majority stayed quiet while you dismissed every woman with an opinion as a Femi-Nazi. Even during your public arrest, there was relatively little said about your blatant hypocrisy in loudly demanding that druggies be kicked off our streets, when all the time your thumb was on redial to your own drug dealer and you were busy shoving black-market painkillers down your throat.

Now you’re verbally attacking a man (not his politics but a man) who can’t stand or sit still, or walk in a straight line, because his body is cruelly ravaged by an incurable, degenerative disease.

Had you bothered to garner ten minutes research before opening your foul mouth, you’d know that Fox, like anyone with full-blown Parkinson's Disease, has little to no control over his body. Period.

You’d know that he probably can’t move at all when he’s " his meds". You’d know that when he wakes in the middle of the night—when it’s dark and his meds are low and his body’s almost catatonic from lack of dopamine—that he probably can’t reach out to hold his wife’s hand for a moment’s comfort. You’d know that he probably can’t dress himself, or cut the meat on his dinner plate, or pull up his pants when he’s been to the bathroom.

You’d also know that the slightest amount of stress—whether caused by anxiety, nervousness, frustration, anger, sadness, excitement, or dicks like you—can send his body lurching, swaying, surging, and jerking beyond his control. Parkinson's Disease slows and cramps the respiratory system that permits him to breathe. The muscles and brain synapses that allow him to smile. The chords that allow him to speak.

You are ignorant Mr. Limbaugh. And ignorance breeds ignorance.

Did watching Michael’s body, swaying and lurching, make you feel uncomfortable? Did seeing him unable to control the simplest of motions make you squirm and want to look away? Is that why you redirected the argumentto ease your discomfort and marginalize Michael's brave ongoing struggle by affronting him with your mockery? Or, Mr. Limbaugh, are you simply “ your meds”?

NB. It should be noted that Limbaugh later said he might apologize. Rush Limbaugh parody ad courtesy of Dave Ward.Michael J. Fox Organization
Parkinson's Disease Foundation

Sunday, October 22, 2006

road floozie

Being a book-a-holic, I found these interesting (in fact, they cracked me up).

I received two postcards from Europe which are images of genuine book
covers from the 1940s.

Evidently, both cover girls were fans of the Jane Russell wonderbra.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

is it enough?

A couple of years ago, my friend JJ and her husband tired of city life and moved to a beautiful river-community 200 miles south. Before they moved, JJ and I had met every three or four weeks (in a coffee shop, of course!) where we’d share our goals for the month ahead, and hold each other accountable for our achievements from the previous month.

We’d leave our sessions feeling invigorated, ready to take on the world!

We’d explore the creative process. We’d share breakthroughs. And—since we are both somewhat type-A personalities—we’d remind each other to take good care of ourselves and those we love along the way.

JJ would grill me: What have you done for yourself this month? Have you been working out? Have you been eating healthfully? Have you been having fun?

Well sure, JJ, I've been having fun; probably more than most. I have hours of sheer glee. And some ridiculously goofy days and weekends, filled with endless laughter and wonderful people. But as we zoom toward the close of another year—and another birthday—I’m doing my “annual thing” and questioning if that’s enough.

~ ~
I was raised by war-babies. Wonderful, well-grounded people who, at three- and six-years old, were regularly woken from scattered dreams by the rude screech of air-raid alarms announcing approaching enemy bombers. In the dead of night, my grandparents bundled their frightened babies into coarse, dry blankets, scooped them in strong arms, and rushed them to the bottom of the garden. There, they huddled underground in the cold corrugated-iron of their Anderson bomb shelter. With teeth chattering, from fear as much as cold, they told stories and tried to snatch moments of sleep, all the while listening for the eerie silence that preceded a falling bomb.

These people were pragmatists. They had no side to them. No superficial gloss. No hidden agendas or devious manipulative meanderings. You knew exactly where you stood with them at any given moment of any given day.  They were resilient and no matter what came their way, they knew they'd get through it.

I grew up with that British Stiff-Upper-Lip doctrine; hold your head high, suck it up, get over yourself. Do the right thing. Don’t be self-centered; don’t show-off; don't be rude; don’t use other people. Work hard. Do things to the best of your ability, or don't do them at all. Think of those less fortunate than yourself. Be grateful for what you have. Do what you have to do; don’t whine about it. And by God, girl, if you’re going to do it … do it with passion!  

~ ~
For the most part, I don't whine about things, but as I review the past year—at that birthday time of year—and what I think, might-or-should-or-could-or-would-be, it feels somewhat self-indulgent, maybe be even narcissistic.  This 'self-thinking' is incongruent to the way I was raised ... my parents and certainly my grandparents, would call it self-absorption ... then add, "This is what's wrong with the world today". Maybe they reflected on these things too, but didn't say them out loud. Given their generations, I think that's most likely.

In today’s society when so much emphasis is placed on self-fulfillment, self-growth, self-improvement, self-actualization, self-self-self ... have we become a selfish society?  Is it selfish to expect to live, to learn, to laugh—and most importantly—to love out loud?

Is it self-indulgent to want to rise above historical references, constraining beliefs, self-imposed limitations? Is it enough to be content with what-is? To concede to the perfunctory veneer of what is easy or expected or known? Is it enough to yield to what is gratuitously given? Or what simply comes our way?

Or should we strive for what, or whom, we ache for? For that which makes us burn? For what we perceive life might-or-should-or-could-or-would-be if we took a risk; if we laid ourselves bare, opened ourselves up, and stretched beyond the comfort of our current being?

I know what I think. What do you think?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

reach out

In this busy e-driven world, where it’s difficult—and sometimes logistically impossible—to get even two minutes face-time with the people you work with daily, have you ever wondered how you’re going to meet new people? Cultivate new friendships? Develop relationships beyond the cursory?

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you’d smiled instead of scowled at the dark stranger who nudged against you while you were on a business trip in Manhattan? What might have transpired if you’d chatted to the person spilling elbows and knees over your seat on the plane, instead of pretending to be asleep? Or what could have evolved if you’d simply reached out to someone who looked lost at an event or seminar?

I first met Yasmine about five years ago at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference. I was on the Board of Directors at the time, and after the opening ceremonies I noticed a fellow writer in the audience; long black hair, long black clothes, covered in tattoos. She stood out. And stood alone, notebook in hand, looking around the emptying room.

I’m not sure she was feeling lost, but I walked over to her anyway and made a passing comment about her striking tattoos. I learned that she was a nonfiction writer like me, but she authored metaphysical books. We wished each other well and went on our way to enjoy the conference.

Almost a year later I was dawdling across the parking lot to the UPS store, eyes to the ground, when I sensed someone in front of me and looked up. The tattooed lady!

I was about to brush by her with nothing but a lazy summer smile and something made me stop. “You probably don’t remember me” I said, “but we met at the PNWA conference last year.” She remembered.

She told me she had just finished a mystery novel and was looking for an agent. We exchanged business cards, promising to hook up for coffee one day, and again, went on our way.

Back at my studio, I filed away her card for future reference. Before the week was out, she'd sent me an email, and we met up a couple of days later in one of Seattle’s ubiquitous Starbucks. Her husband, Samwise, dropped her off and politely got lost for an hour while we girls talked shop.

Another couple of days passed and an excited author emailed: “I have an agent. She loved my novel…”

Best of British I said, and meant; the business-side of my brain knowing, but not saying, “…doesn’t mean squat until you have a signed contract.”

Well she did get a signed contract, within the week, for three mystery books; quickly followed by another two-book contract for the same series; plus a new three-book contract on a second mystery series!

On October 3rd she launched her third series—this time an urban fantasy. And on Thursday, a week into the launch of her new series, she officially became a Best Selling Author with Witchling.

Friendships are intangible. Some are easy; some challenging. Some could be considered meant to be. Others may seem odd or mismatched. But I know one thing for sure. Reaching out can bring unexpected joy and good fortune into your life.

I’ve so enjoyed experiencing this journey with my friend, seeing her growth as an author and multi-series novelist. I’ve heard her highs; felt her lows. I’ve listened to her angst and fears. I know how hard she’s worked. And even through the cruelest hardships, when most people would have long ago given up, I know that she’s dreamt of this very moment for most of her forty-some years.

I’ve been as excited as she has, at each new step of her voyage … and I would have missed all that, and so much more, had I not reached out in the parking lot that day to a tattooed stranger.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

name your talk radio guest

I’m gearing up for our 9th live on-air season, starting in just a few days, and will be spending the next week or so on program development. I thought you might be able to help!

I’m looking for really great nonfiction books, films, or people that have changed your way of thinking; even changed your life. Changes don’t have be monumental—but what have you read that’s created a significant Ah-Ha moment, or made you see life differently, or given you a radically different perspective? Which nonfiction books do you recommend to others? Which nonfiction films engaged you in conversation long after you’d left the theater? What stories or topics have been buried in mainstream media? What should more of us understand or be aware of? Or who can enlighten through the power of laughter?

My favorite guests, and the ones our listeners typically connect with the most, are those who’ve got a really compelling story to share. They’re often ordinary people who’ve stretched themselves above and beyond the ordinary; who’ve pushed the envelope and accomplished or survived what everyone said they couldn’t.

Like the partners, in love and business, who shot a documentary about the vanishing art treasures of Iraq. While she flew back to New York to begin editing their film, he stayed in Iraq to shoot more footage. Videos flashed around the world’s news stations showing him handcuffed and hooded with a rifle to his head—and that’s when his partner learned he’d been kidnapped by insurgents who threatened to shoot him if their demands were ignored.

Or the 50-year-old former nurse I profiled in a feature series after she’d walked solo to the magnetic north pole, coming face to face with polar bears. She’s now a respected National Geographic explorer, has lived with wolves, followed the caribou trail, walked the Mongolian Desert, and has been on the show twice. Or Dr. Jane Goodall, a very humble, regular person with extraordinary tenacity, whose work has reached far beyond saving chimpanzees from extinction to touch the lives of young children and their understanding of our world.

I’m not an expert on much of anything. But through my work, my goal is to help inspire, inform, and stimulate, one person at a time. Who do you think would make a great guest?

Links to previous interviews mentioned above.
The Jane Goodall Institute
Micah and Marie Helen Garen - American Hostage and Micha's Iraq
Helen Thayer - Explorer