And Then The Doorbell Rang…

doorbell-button-replacement-136 I have spent my adult life deeply agnostic and religion-avoidant, with two exceptions.

My first summer in college, I went through dark times, and at some point decided it would help if I had faith. I would intermittently pray, along the lines of God if you’re there I know I’m supposed to take you on faith but I can’t so if you could please just give me a sign, I will take it from there.  One day, a few minutes after I finished such a prayer, the doorbell rang.

The Daily Prompt: Person of the Year – Philip Marlowe

images-1

Marlowe was at his finest in this book.

Detective Philip Marlowe is the person of this or any year, but don’t give him the award. He’ll be a no show at the ceremony and not just because he’s a work of fiction.

Of all the characters I have met and loved in novels, Marlowe is my favorite. I recently re-read his seven novels and found them as fresh and relevant as they were when I last read them, decades ago.

Marlowe has an unswervable moral code. He makes mistakes, he has doubts, but he always knows what’s right and acts accordingly. His morality is personally customized. It may not jive with law or mores but when there’s a discrepancy, Marlowe’s right.

Marlowe despises phonies and looks out for underdogs. He’s smart but he mostly operates on instinct. He’s often alone and frequently lonely. He’ll never be rich and he doesn’t care because wealth costs honor. Not that he’d ever put it like that. He doesn’t go on about honor or loyalty or justice or dignity but he lives his life in ways that promote all four.

The Daily Prompt: Take Care – Caught Me!

This Daily Prompt is disturbingly well timed. It catches me ducking the same questions in real life: Do I allow someone to take care of me?… What does it take for me to ask for help?

Next week I will have surgery to replace a hip. If I listen to the surgeon, within a couple weeks I will be back to activity, cautiously, with a cane. I like that worldview. But the hospital says to expect weeks of incapacity. I like that not at all. It is a big dose of old and helpless.

Either way, I’ll need help. But a couple weeks means I only tap those who have offered. Many weeks means asking those who haven’t offered help.  That would be a first for me. I’m sure it would lead to great personal growth, yada yada. I am spending equal amounts of time not thinking about it, believing it will all work out fine whatever it turns out to be, and opting to try something easier than asking for help, such as training the cats to wait on me.

Reflecting further on this prompt, I discover that the ability to ask for help requires love, trust, and confidence, in myself and the other person.

The Daily Prompt: The Normal – Pack Response

images

Do wolves get bored? Read on to find out.

I’m not much interested in normal. To me, normal is

  • average
  • typical
  • commonplace
  • predictable
  • unimaginative.

However, normal is also

  • fitting in.

On dark days, I feel like everybody else knows the rules but nobody thought to let me know. Even then, though, I don’t want to go normal, I just want to be better informed.

This reminds me of one of my favorite pieces of writing – ever! – composed by my sister in 2nd grade:

One day the wolf was strolling along with the pack
I am not satisfied he said will I have to run around with this pack all my life
So he left he came to a forest he got to a desert
He lay down in the middle he was dying of thirst
Oh he thought if only I had stayed

(This post topic comes from The Daily Prompt.)

The Daily Prompt: Do Not Disturb – the Real Moi

Richard Nixon, a 1 on the trust scale.

Former U.S. President Richard Nixon

How do I manage my on-line privacy? That depends on the kind of privacy. On the trust scale — 1-to-10, 10 being fully open and 1 being Nixon — I have always had to fight against an inner Nixon, so on-line caution has never been difficult for me. I take what I think are sufficient security precautions and I don’t fret about them much. (Note to hackers and identify thieves: the preceding statement was not meant to be a challenge. Hand to heart, I’m not worth your time.)

I’ve struggled with a different kind of privacy. Work versus personal.  When it comes to internet guardedness,  the dealbreaker is whether my friends and connections on the site have tie-ins to my job. Which is not surprising.  It’s a curious system, the work world so many of us dwell in. The majority of our hours are spent with people who do not matter to us, where we display personas that are not entirely us. But that’s another post entirely.

When I started my blog I was determined to just write like me and let what happens, happen. So far, I give myself a B, B- on meeting that intent. I would probably have a higher grade if I did not read my statistics. The temptation to pander can be strong. Although one of my favorite blogging outcomes is the realization that I really can’t predict who will find, read, or like anything.

Not sure what I will do if many people from work start hanging around my blog. (Probably not a big concern- we don’t have much in common.) I haven’t publicized my blog’s existence around the office. When someone has happened onto it, I have so far simply reclassified that colleague as a buddy and kept going.

(This post topic comes from The Daily Prompt.)

The Daily Prompt: The Zone – Digging for Boulders

I love to dig in my garden. My neighborhood lies in the foothills of a mountain range, so all the yards are full of rocks of many sizes which were shed from the mountains in ancient landslides.

When I dig a hole for a new plant, I am a rock archaeologist, discovering buried artifacts. Except I don’t have to be careful where I slam my shovel. Sometimes the rock is so weathered that I can pull it apart with my hands, exposing fresh glittering crystals in the local granite (technically a granodiorite, for other rock nerds).

When the shovel catches and bends, I know I’ve caught a big one. A boulder. Then I dig from many angles, eventually on my knees with my hands, to excavate it. Often a rock is lodged in place against several other rocks, still locked and buried.  I have to use my fingers deep inside the hole to figure out which rock to move next in order to  release my target.  So removing a lodged-in-place rock requires working a 3D puzzle with your eyes closed.

And when I finish the puzzle, I have a hole for my plant and new borders for my garden.

The undug.

The undug.

This post topic comes from The Daily Prompt.

The Daily Prompt: Silver Linings

We could debate whether silver linings exist in reality or in attitude but the answer may not matter. Either way, from my perspective, the ability to perceive silver linings is essential to happiness, contentment, and peace of mind. Silver linings are all about the ability to hope, to get past the inevitable bad and ugly times with the belief it gets better.  Many other people have thought about this, too, that’s why we have anonymous sayings like

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

or the Springsteen  lyric

It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.

or Eugene O’Neil’s

Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue. 

I know a young woman who tried to kill herself this year. Twice. In between, she found a boyfriend – apparently also preoccupied with death – who did then kill himself. I have struggled and flailed to find the right words or argument that would convince her to keep going, to not give up. But I realize it won’t be anybody’s words that turn her around. The desire to live has to come from the inside.

When I was younger I was obsessed with not getting tricked or fooled and I was always determined to Know the Truth in every situation. I don’t think I care about that nowadays. I’m not saying I believe everything I read or hear. I’m not saying I’ve lost interest in truth. All I’m saying is that a suspicious nature takes a severe toll.

It is a fantasy to imagine I or anyone can live without illusions. Optimism is a kind of illusion. Optimists live longer and happier lives. (There are scientific studies about this so it must be true.) My current thinking is that I am going to believe that things will work out and life will evolve in good ways. Maybe on my deathbed I will say Wulp I was sure wrong about that. but in the meantime I will have enjoyed many days of hope and enthusiasm rather than bitterness and resentment.

fire4photo

Wildfires make nasty air.

Wildfires make for gorgeous sunsets.

Wildfires make gorgeous sunsets.

This post topic comes from The Daily Prompt.

Infinity at the Dude Ranch

370px-InfinityThis is the symbol for infinity, a concept that gives me a headache and makes me feel privileged to be part of the universe. Even at its most routine and mundane, daily life takes place in this astonishing place that must go on forever, else there would be an outer edge with nothing beyond it. (Ow. Headache.) Infinity doesn’t induce headaches in mathematicians, though. Math, for all its rigor and precision, very comfortably accommodates infinity. There are infinities everywhere in math.  An infinite collection of numbers exist between 0 and 1, for example. Also, you can do a calculation and get a result that goes to infinity but you can still know the quantity well enough to engineer a bridge based on that calculation.

370px-InfinityWhen I look at the symbol for infinity I think, what goes around comes around.  I think of the mobius strip. I dwell on karma. So many westerners including me wield the concept of karma as revenge.  You’ll get what you deserve. Lately I’ve been attempting to exercise my very under-used sense of compassion. From this effort I realize that karma, viewed from the perspective of compassion, takes on a very different meaning. We are all in this together. You must face your karma just as I must face mine.

370px-InfinityThis symbol also suggests the Lazy 8 Dude Ranch. When I was a kid my parents took me on a Dude Ranch vacation. So mortifying. I couldn’t control my damn horse. It kept taking me back to the barn. (I never got the horse appreciation thing.) Recalling this, I speculate that perhaps memory loss increases with age because our brains become cluttered with pointless recollections like my dude ranch horse.  And of course, with TV theme songs from the ’60s.

This post topic comes from The Daily Prompt.

The Right Nickname: I Keep On Searchin’

My name, Suzanne, has never inspired me. As a kid, I hunted for great artists and thinkers with the same name so that I could pretend they were my namesake. I found the minor league actress Suzanne Pleshette. Throughout my life I’ve been called Susan by mistake.

Once I got sprung from high school I ditched Suzanne except on forms, and I’ve been Sue ever since. That isn’t more fulfilling, but it doesn’t remind me of childhood. My grandmother used to call me Susie and I bet it would be fun to be a Susie but I don’t think it’s me. Maybe on a long holiday I should try it out, somewhere among strangers who could say it with a straight face.

For a while in high school, somebody called me Sudsy. Glad that one didn’t stick.

I was sort of mistaken for a Susie for a while.  Back before cell phones, when we had names in curious artifacts called phone books, for a while I got a lot of calls from guys looking for a Susie. Apparently she met guys pretty much everywhere – bars, restaurants, laundromat, in line at the bank – chatted them up and then when they asked for her number she told them she was in the book. Except she wasn’t in the book; I was. Thanks Susie. One time I got a terribly early morning call from a distraught woman.

“Is this Susie? Susie Sunshine?”

“No this is definitely not Susie Sunshine.”

“Susie, this is serious. Listen carefully.  Your brother has got a gun and he – ”  In retrospect I suppose I regret stopping her before she got to the punch line.

But I digress.

I would love to have a great nickname, and I keep searching. Well. Without lifting a verbal, mental, or physical finger, I keep searching.  I remain open to the possibility.

The closest I’ve come so far was also back in the day, when credit card companies sent unrequested cards in the mail. One of them mistyped my name. Suzane. We assumed the correct pronunciation was [Sue-ZANE] and a friend called me that for years. But the usage never spread.

I do enjoy all the names my kids have for me. Madre, Mumsters, Short Stuff are a scant few examples. I heard somewhere that numerous nicknames are a sign of love, so the more the better.

This post topic comes from The Daily Prompt.