Saturday, January 14, 2012

The True Confession of an Obit Reader

Okay, so I read the obits. So what? I bet you do too. I bet everyone over the age of 40 reads them, or younger if you are Italian. I bet you wonder what killed them if it doesn’t say. I do, especially if they are young- or my age. Sometimes you can tell by the charity chosen to donate to. Sometimes it is the Humane Society, so then you’re left to wonder.

I started reading the obits in my 20’s. My mom read them too. She would call me when I lived in San Francisco and she lived in Marin- and ask me to check the San Francisco obits for relatives and friends.

My reasons for reading them now are two-fold. Or so I tell myself anyway. First because I do have a morbid curiosity to know if anyone I know died. Second, I like to critique them. Now the latter sounds bad- but I can’t help it. It has made me somewhat obsessive about my own obit, so I am either going to write it myself- or possibly trust my son to make it a good one. (Depending on how much of a surprise my departure is.)

I am particularly curious about the people that lived to be ninety and their obituary has almost nothing in it.  Mind you, I don’t want mine to read every little detail. “Katie was wild as a youth, ran away from home several times, was somewhat promiscuous in her twenties (it was the 70’s people) and drank like a fish until she was in her late thirties.”

No, I don’t want that. (Nick, please note.) But some accomplishments- other than giving birth to an awesome kid- would be nice. And if I died of being hit by a big old bus- then say so- I don’t want my friends and other obit aficionados to wonder how I ended up wherever I end up.

I live where I grew up, so I’m seeing more and more names I know in the obits these days. Most of them I haven’t seen in forty years- so I won’t be running off to their funerals. That would be too Harold and Maude, even for me.

Lately, I’ve found a couple of other good uses for obits.  Character names and profiles are a plenty in that section. Of course, I mix and match- but grabbing real careers and names makes very believable characters.

 Lastly- reading the obits really reminds me to live like there is no tomorrow. Live passionately and be true to yourself- because it may be a one-trip deal. (As much as I like the thought of reincarnation- just in case- I like to hedge those bets.)

So here is hoping I don’t see your name anytime soon and if you see mine- I hope the following blurb gives you a couple of laughs.

Happy Weekend! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I’m Glad I’m not Voting Today

I’ve been sitting on my hands for a couple of weeks now- trying so hard to not say anything about the political chaos going on. I just took a walk and tried to think of something else I could write about that might be of interest to someone- anyone.

All week long one sentence kept going through my head though. And this is what it was:

If I were President Obama, I would be dancing a jig right now.

Honestly, I don’t know where I stand in the political turmoil. I’m observing- and sharing my observations with you. I don’t vote party line because I don’t agree with either side 100%. So I vote for the person. I look for someone with the qualities that I find attractive in any human being. Intelligence, compassion, fairness, honesty (forthrightness), and a sense of humor. The later being important in the balance of all things grave and important- you do have to know when to laugh. I apply the same criteria to picking my friends.

I am not interested in religious doctrine when it comes to running this country. I do not care what religion anyone is as long as it does not interfere with affairs of state or as long as they don’t impose their views on me. I remember the controversy surrounding John Kennedy as the first Roman Catholic. He was a “damn Catholic”. I do not recall- and maybe because I was young, but I don’t recall in any history I have read, him ever making decisions based on his religion. It would stand to reason since he was a practicing Catholic, that he was pro-life, which means he couldn’t be elected as a Democrat today. But Pro Life and Pro Choice was not an issue in the 60’s. Illegal abortions were the rage back then. Death by rusty coat hanger was the solution to the problem of pregnancy.

I would like to see us not become involved in any more wars that are none of our business. YES- I know there is a global war on terrorism. (That is like a world war only sneakier) I know our country needs oil or we will become a 3rd world country in the dark, tuit de’suite. So I am willing to try a little diplomacy. A little psychology.

Many of the world’s leaders are nut jobs. The Arab Spring cleaned up some of it- but there is much more to go. North Korea, Iran and Syria are the most pressing at this moment in time. Many African nations are lurking in the nut trees too. We cannot take our eyes off of any of them. Not for a minute.

I remember when President Obama was running for President and he said, “We're going to change the way we do things in Washington.” (DC). I actually did laugh out loud. I remember saying to whoever was in the room at the time-( maybe it was the dogs-) that he was in for a big surprise.

All candidates from all parties make promises they can’t keep- because all candidates are not privy to all the facts. They think they are- but they are not. And we sure aren’t either.

That was why after President Obama was elected- his plan for getting our butts out of Iraq changed slightly. Then much to the surprise of many, including me, he took an aggressive stance in Afghanistan- (which most American’s had forgotten about) and ramped up the troops. Because he knew more then he did before he was elected. It’s one of the perks of being President.

President Obama inherited a huge mess of a country. Everything was in the fiscal toilet. The housing market was a disaster and we were in or within a minute of being in a recession. I don’t think the President has the power to magically fix the mess he was handed. And I don’t think President Bush was the soul person responsible for the mess either.

The turn around has been painfully slow, but finally this week the economist’s have had some good news for us- and President Obama. Things are starting to go in a positive direction again. That is not why I think President Obama should be doing a jig. No- the reason I think he should be doing a jig is because the GOP has not produced a viable candidate – at least for me. I know a lot of Republican’s that are saying they have not decided yet- or flat out, they don’t like any of them. It will be interesting to watch this race.

And while many of the people that voted for Obama have been disappointed because he didn’t act fast enough, or changed his mind, armed with new information- still I doubt many staunch Democrats will be voting Republican.  Maybe- if they are like me- and vote for the man or woman and not the party some Democrats will cross over and visa versa.  The political gulf is widening though.

Bipartisan is a dirty word right now. I would personally like to see the politicians grow up and start figuring out where to compromise – because Congress is a joke if they can’t get anything passed- and that alone forces any President to make Executive Orders or *recess confirmations. The founding fathers made sure you could not keep the decisions of the country at a standstill. (*The question of the legality of the appointment will undoubtedly go to court- I am guessing that they will find it legal.)

I’m trying to convince myself my vote matters. I’m trying to figure out if I want health insurance for my preexisting conditions or not. I’m trying to figure out if I will have to live in a world full of bigots and people that think God is only for Christian’s and Americans.  I’m trying to figure out what will happen to the fragile economy if we make the wrong decision. I’m trying to figure out how many more troops – how many more mother’s sons or daughters will have to be killed in tribal wars that have gone on since the beginning of time and will likely continue long after we bring our troops home. (Yet I would be willing to go fight for the rights of women in those countries.) I’m trying to figure out if the economy will turn around or will I actually have to work till the day I drop dead.  I have no money so I’m not really worried about taxes right now.I am worried about civil rights, gay rights, and human rights.

I have more questions than answers. I want a hybrid candidate. One that offers solutions instead of insults and one that has the capacity to communicate with world leaders with respect where due- and be able to act swiftly, with might when necessary. I want a candidate that will respect the civil rights of Americans and the human rights of Americans and everyone else.

Maybe that is too much to ask of any human being.