Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Mom Got a Singing Margarita Birthday Card for a 9 Year-Old Like That's Normal

"What? It was the only one that sang AND spun around," my mom said defensively. "I realize it's not appropriate but it needed to have those two things."

Perhaps nothing better captures my mother's unintentional hilarity than this exchange.

"Mom," I said matter-of-factly, "she's nine years old and this card has Alan Jackson singing "It's Five o'clock Somewhere" with a spinning margarita blender. Do you realize how crazy that is?"

"Of course!," she replied. Then: "Are you taking a picture of it to make fun of me on your blog?"

Paige kept opening and closing the card and dancing around the living room as if Jimmy Buffet himself was about to mix her a tall one with salt around the rim.

"Of course,!" I said. "The world needs to know about this." 

Friday, December 30, 2016

This Tortoise Has Zero Game

I'm pretty much a connoisseur of nature docs; they're better than Ambien for putting me to sleep, or at least the BBC ones with British narrators are. The reason is the difference between a British and American nature doc narration:

British: "The male tortoise seems not to be coy, instead pursuing his quarry with the diligence befitting a spee-sees that has survived for millennia in one of the hahshest climates on planet earth."

U.S.: "This tortoise is the BIGGEST, BADDEST, WILDEST REPTILE IN TURKEY. He's gonna win this courtship ritual or die tryin'! That's why he comes in at #31, JUUUUST edging out the spotted chameleon, who moves down to #32 on our list of 72 HORNIEST REPTILES!

Whether narrated by a NASCAR cowboy or a biology professor at Cambridge, though, this Turkish tortoise has zero game. I watched it play out last night on an episode of "Wildest Middle East" on Netflix (Sans Chill).

First look at that O-face. It's a good thing dudebro is doing bae doggie/tortoise style. If she could see his face right now she would kick him out of this grass bed (in slow motion) and text her friends 100 different emojis making fun of him.

Second, l need to describe what went into getting her to this point, i.e., tortoise foreplay.

Dudebro came up behind her and began headbutting her shell like he was the 5-0 executing a no-knock warrant on her apartment, and then got on top of her to do the only thing tortoises do fast, apparently. Natch, it took him 10x longer to walk over to her than it did to close the deal. 

Finally, bae looks like she would rather be LITERALLY anywhere else right now, even in a bowl of soup. She is fully cringing like she can't believe this is the whole purpose of her life. To have a dudebro tortoise creep up behind her, ram her shell with his head, mount her for ten seconds, make a ridiculous O-face, and leave her to shit out a clutch of eggs.

No matter what accent you use to describe it, this tortoise has zero game.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

This Was Legit Every Parent at the Museum of Natural History Today

Like literally everything else in New York City, the Museum of Natural History was a lot more crowded and expensive than I remembered growing up. Even the friends we met there from Brooklyn conceded that the line snaking three blocks long in the rain was next-level ridiculous, and we all made a solemn vow to never again attempt this excursion during Christmas break.

Furthermore, my experience of this museum from a parental perspective was notably different from that of my childhood, when I ran amongst gems and meteorites and under giant whales and canoes without having to worry about losing my upstream-swimming spawn in the most epic of NYC Christmas week clusterfucks.

Not so as a parent. Let me be clear about something: almost every adult in the building with a child in tow--and there were thousands--looked like the prehistoric people in the picture below: haggard, confused, and fighting a Darwinian battle for survival in a crucible of human reproduction and population movement. Most of them were slightly taller, better dressed, and less hairy; but otherwise the two species were indistinguishable.

It was as if 10,000 parents of young children were all trying to orient themselves with a map at the same exact time, and every kid was alternately hanging off their parents' pant legs, getting lost, and whining the same shit: 

"Can you pick me up?"
"I'm hungry!"
"I need to poop."
"Can I go on your shoulders?"
"Can we get something at the gift shop?"

At one point, (sometime between a crustless PB&J/water fountain bench break) we were carried forward on a sea of humanity that we could only pray was leading toward the holy grail of this museum: the dinosaurs and promises of T-Rex and Megaladon's fossilized jaw.

For a moment, the universe decided to cut us a break: an enormous service elevator, staffed by an elderly woman in a swivel chair, appeared out of nowhere and opened before us. I caught the old woman's eye and croaked desperately, "Dinos?" She nodded and our little group shuffled in.

As we made our way through the Cretacious period, I again observed that very few people were engaging with the exhibits. Every adult was looking for a stray child, and every child was screaming. It was some fresh hell, is what it was.

By the time we left, I was positive I had gone backwards in time to an era when all humans had to scrap with one another in caves and on plains just to stay hydrated and maintain the correct body temperature.

The AMNH at Christmas: a 4-D experience in evolutionary biology. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

10 Signs that America is a Friend to Israel

Everyone loves to debate whether America is, was, and/or forever will be a "friend to Israel." I'm not here to debate mid-east policy or point out that Netanyahu is crazier than Donald Trump with or without Twitter. I'm simply an American Jew who can read the signs that the United States is indeed "a friend to Israel." 

Here's how I know:

1. The U.S. just followed Israel on Insta and left like, six comments telling Israel how cute it was.

2. Israel and the U.S. just split two halves of a best friends forever heart necklace.

3. Israel and the U.S. showed up to the UN dressed as twins.

4. Israel and the U.S. added each other to their list of VIPs and favorites in their contacts.

5. Israel and the U.S. are totally going on spring break together in Cancun.

6. Israel was really into Russia and the U.S. orchestrated a secret date for them at the mall food court.

7. Israel totally let the U.S. borrow its Cliff Notes for "the Diary of Anne Frank" test in English class.

8. Israel wanted to get a makeover and the U.S. totally came over and French braided its hair and helped give it a smoky eye.

9. One time Russia was a total jerk to the U.S. and Israel didn't talk to Russia for like a week.

10. The U.S. covered for Israel when Israel snuck out of the house to do some sketchy shit with settlements this one time.

Worst. Honeymoon. EVER!

Be it nature or nurture, I come from a long line of cynics, non-romantics, and people who roll their eyes at tradition and sentiment. I didn't appreciate the true extent of my lineage, however, until I heard the full story of my parents' "honeymoon" just this week.

I knew my parents were married in late November, in a dry, administrative ceremony at City Hall in Manhattan, marked with a plain gold(ish?) band my mom picked out at a stall in China Town. I also knew their "honeymoon" had been a long weekend away north of the city. Sounds romantic-ish, albeit practical.

What I didn't realize, however, was that their honeymoon had been in Tarrytown, New York, included two of my uncles, and yielded a framed picture of the headless horseman as the only souvenir.  

"Wait . . . Jake and Kenny came with you guys? On your honeymoon?" I asked my mom incredulously. My dad, Nick, is the middle of three brothers, and he's always been close to his older brother Jake and especially his younger brother, Kenny. "Do you understand how fucking weird that is?!"

"Well they didn't stay in the same ROOM with us!" My mom laughed. Thank God for small favors. "Plus, we went to Tarrytown!" 

Wait. Tarrytown? In Westchester? Home of Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hollow, and the Headless Horseman and otherwise a bedroom community accessible by Metro North from Grand Central Station? 

My mind was racing.

"Wait . . .  Tarrytown? In Westchester? Home of Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hollow, and the Headless Horseman and otherwise a bedroom community accessible by Metro North from Grand Central Station?!" I yelled.

"Yeah," my mom responded with a shrug in her thick Bronx accent. "I got a pictchah of the headless horseman for a souvenieah!" Again my brain searched frantically for data.

Oh My God. The one in the bathroom!

You do realize, I told her, that what you are describing is the worst honeymoon ever. And that's coming from someone who got married between the credenza and the coffee table in her in-law's living room, spent her own wedding night in a hotel on Long Island waiting to attend someone else's extremely fancy wedding the very next day, and didn't even go on a honeymoon at all.

So long story short, my parents went to a random suburb of New York City in winter for their honeymoon with my uncles for company, and returned with a picture of a headless beast carrying a flaming pumpkin on a horse. A picture that they then hung on the wall of their bathroom, and that literally haunted every shit I ever took as a child.

There's the secret, I suppose, to a long and happy marriage.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Life is Performance

A friend of mine (quoted here with permission), posted something interesting and thought-provoking on Facebook about criticism from fellow Alaska Natives of his cultural and artistic work in the Native community:
I am not Alaska Native, so I can't speak to the cultural implications or validity of this criticism.

For me, my friend's post provoked a more general observation, which is that each of us, to some degree, is "performing" our lives. Life is performance. 

Humans are social, interactive creatures. Most of us are in a state of intermittent performance from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we go to bed at night.

Using myself as an example, on a typical workday, I put on my nice clothes and makeup to perform as a woman lawyer. Every professional interaction I have throughout the day is an expression of that performance, of being in that "role." When I come home to my kids, I perform for them as a mother. If a friend calls me with a problem, I perform as a friend.

To use the word "performance" suggests inauthenticity, as if there is something else we "truly" are when we drop the act. 
But the line between who we "are" and who we are when we're "performing" is a blurry one. Even our most intimate relationships and physical encounters contain an element of performance. There is hardly any time at all when we are interacting with the world that we are not to some extent "performing."

Does that mean we are all therefore inauthentic and disingenuous? Of course not. There is a big difference between pulling off a con or an act, and expressing different parts of ourselves in ways we want the world to see and take in. Even this blog, which is nothing if not real, is an act of performance.

Everyday life contains a huge element of performance and that doesn't make us fake posers. It makes us social, artistic, and interconnected. It makes us human.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Meditations on a Ceramic Pear

It sounds like the title of an essay by Sartre, poorly-translated from the French. Really it's just the right way to describe the poignant mix of sadness, nostalgia, and fear I feel whenever I return to my childhood bedroom--and this ceramic pear is like a physical embodiment of it. 

The room is a time capsule, not out of sentimentality on the part of the people who live here. To the contrary, it's my parents' disinterest in 42 years worth of detritus squatting in their apartment that has frozen this space in the condition I left it, when I left it forever, at age 17.

My parents' inertia enables an annual nostalgia trip though. The clay pear is one of many dated objects in here: the Cabbage Patch doll I coveted more than anything in my seven years of life; a three-ring binder from a high school English class, complete with notes and grades; a cactus that not just endures--but thrives--on continued neglect. I envy the cactus for its stoic self-sufficiency and protective shell, which is always the moment I reach over and pick up the pear. 

I turn the smooth glazed object over and over in my hand while zoning out on it. I can remember making it (or if not it specifically, maybe one of its clay produce brethren). How careful I was to render each fruit and vegetable as realistically as I could. How frustrated I was that my fourth grade hands wouldn't do the bidding of my artistic vision. How satisfied I was to see the colors of my sculptures transform from a dull matte paint to a shiny glaze, displayed on butcher paper alongside a hundred others, in the noisy hallway outside Ms. Tucci's art class.

And a certain nihilism sets in. 

What was the point of making this, I ask myself? What's the point of any of this shit? It will just become dust, quite literally, along with everything else in here. Along with my parents, along with me, along with this apartment, this building, this city, and everyone and everything I and every single one of us has ever known. 

But wait! 

First I must engage with it--and all the other things like it--in some sort of self-sabotaging perversion of Marie Kondo's "sparking joy" craze, the end result of which is the same amount of stuff and twice as much angst.

Which is when I tell myself it's not really about the pear. It never was. It's never about the thing it seems to be about. It's about the process that went into creating the pear, the simple memory it holds, the record of a moment and a feeling. Data, stored somewhere in each of our beleaguered mental hard drives, ready to be accessed on command.

We make stuff like this, in part, because we want things to last forever. We know a real pear can't last forever, so we try to make a simulacrum that will last longer. But what are we really trying to preserve? Moments, feelings, memories of people. None of which lasts longer than produce, not in the grand scheme of the universe, anyway.

That doesn't mean the pear serves no purpose, though. In fact, it serves a very distinct purpose: to remind me that time marches on whether I want it to or not. That it's unhealthy and futile to live my life in retrospect. That we all make choices. Choices which, for better or worse, we cannot unmake, and which mean that certain paths are foreclosed to us forever. 

And, most of all, that it is okay.

Emotional Abuse of the GPS

It's a good thing Siri, Google Maps, Wayze, and other GPS map and directions aps are disembodied, computerized voices with no feelings. Because no one, and I mean NO ONE--endures more emotional and verbal abuse than THAT FUCKING GOOGLE MAPS BITCH.

There's truly no better example of the phenomenon of using another person/robot to your own selfish ends than what happens in a car with Google Maps. There is zero reciprocity in this relationship. It's like the second--the very INSTANT you're done with her (or him, but of course it's almost always a her), You. Are. DONE.

She says in her polite, clear, kind and helpful voice, "in 50 feet, your destination will be on the ri--"

"SHUT UP, BITCH! CAN'T YOU SEE WE'RE HERE ALREADY?!" you scream as you circle the block for a place to park. "SHUT THAT ASSHOLE OFF!!!!" Meanwhile, ten seconds ago you were literally depending on her for your every move.

At least Google Maps has the good sense to reroute you without telling you about it. Remember your ex, Garmin? She/he REALLY took some shit. Especially in the Metro D.C. area or, God forbid, Boston. Boston was originally built for horse and buggy times, and it shows. And surely it's not Google's fault, but this doesn't stop you from screaming at THAT FUCKING SHITHEAD GPS.

"In 500 feet, exit left at Tobin Bridge," then you do it and she says calmly and pseudo-helpfully, "Recalculating..."


And all without any acknowledgement that ten years ago, you'd be unfolding a piece of paper the size of a table on your lap while trying to find five quarters to throw into a plastic basket, and in the end you'd still be driving around in circles.

Talk about a one-way relationship.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ya Know What, 2016?! FUHGET YOU!


Theah's somethin' about bein' back in New Yawk that makes me tawk like this, mainly aftah a coupla drinks. It's gotta be my motha, who has a majah New Yawk accent; but it's also maybe just somethin' in the aiyah, like in the atmospheah?

Whaddya gonna do? I dunno.

What I DO know is that 2016 can go fuck itself. Seriously. Sit and spin, 2016. Bowie, Phife, Prince, Leonahd Cohen, and now Geowage Michael!? None of 'em could stand to see Trump become president. That's gotta be it. They all sawr it comin,' and they were all like, no thanks, I'm outta heah! 

The guy who made "faith" a household word decided to Brexit the whole fuckin' planet before waiting to see what 2017 has planned fuh us! Ya can't help but wondah if they awl know somethin' we don't.

2016, there's still a week left and I'm scayahad about what the fuck you've got up yah sleeve fuh the next few days.

The only way you redeem yahself now is to make Trump and Putin quit politics to marry each othah, with Bashar al-Assad officiating. Othawise, don't even tawk to me, 2016. Just shut yah mouth.

AH! Ah! UH UNH. 

Did I stuttah? I SAID Do. Not. Fuckin' TAWK to me!

The Only Thing that Could Make This Flight More Baller is Some Viral Social Media Content

It's not every day that you and your whole family get a free first class upgrade from Seattle to Newark, but if it's any day, it's likely to be Christmas Eve, which it was.

I was in my happy place at last. I had 10 mg of Ativan coursing through my bloodstream, two kids who can be trusted not to act like total assholes on a plane anymore, a free open bar for five hours, a giant window seat, a bowl of warm nuts (the edible kind), and a free "didgie-player" loaded with movies. 

Granted, a full half of those movies starred Matt Damon as a stranded astronaut, and the other half were about hot paralyzed British men having unlikely love affairs with their plucky caregivers.

But still.

Only one thing could make this flight more perfect, and that would be some sick social media content that I would spontaneously film on my iPhone and then upload to Facebook where it would go viral and be reported on the Today Show.

Maybe one of the flight attendants would decide to make a grand exit from his career on the inflatable slide!

Maybe Ivanka Trump was in coach and someone would yell at her and her kids that her dad is ruining the country!

Maybe a passenger would overhear someone speaking Arabic and get "uncomfortable," and a scene would ensue followed by indignance, a boycott, and travel vouchers!

Perhaps there would be a medical emergency, and the only doctor on board would be a 27-year-old black woman and nobody would believe she was actually a doctor, and it would be a big scandal and somebody would almost die as a result of entrenched, institutionalized bigotry all captured on a smartphone!

Maybe a Hasidic Jewish man would stubbornly refuse to sit next to a woman for religious reasons and spark outrage from the rest of the cabin!

Maybe a redneck would start yelling at all the women on board for being "Hillary Bitches" and be banned from Alaska Airlines for life!

Maybe a drunk guy would catcall a flight attendant doing a safety demonstration or grope one of the female passengers, and the whole thing would be documented in real time for the authorities and the Internet to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law in the court of public opinion!

Maybe a screaming, inconsolable toddler accompanied by a single mother would be comforted by an old man of a different ethnicity from the screaming, inconsolable toddler, prompting a feel-good Christmas Eve miracle story!

That's the true meaning of Christmas, my friends: the many possibilities that exist for generating viral social media content on an airplane.

Friday, December 23, 2016

When Vladimir Cheetos Nukes the Lower 48, Alaska is Where It's At!

According to the ever-reliable NATE SILVER at the FAILING NEW YORK TIMES, "here's what the electoral map would look like if only people who weren't burnt to a crisp in the nuclear holocaust voted."

Alaska represent! 

Only Alaska and Wyoming, somehow, are destined to survive Trump and Putin's global dick-swinging contest, in which everyone on earth will absorb the full brunt of their nuclear scrotal sacks. Everyone, that is, except for Alaskans and Wyomingians(?)

I don't know shit about Wyoming, except that it's windy, full of cowboys, home to Yellowstone NP, and has an overpriced ski area.

But I do know a thing or two about Alaska, and this is TOTALLY the place you want to ride out the nuclear holocaust or the zombie apocalypse for that matter. I hereby offer my home up to any nuclear refugees who must flee a mushroom cloud unleashed by Vladimir Cheetos.

Think about it: Alaska is full of people who know how to live off the land and abundant natural resources that haven't yet been completely fucked beyond all sustainable yield. 

Sure there'd only be six electoral votes, but who cares when the entire continent of North America and probably Europe is evaporated into atomic dust in an end-times doomsday scenario propelled by two or three of the biggest megalomaniacs alive? 

PSA to all my friends in the Lower 48: If Vladimir Cheetos starts World War III and every city from Maine to California is leveled into fine particulates, come on up out of the fallout shelter and make your way to one of the only two states predicted by NATE SILVER to retain its current form of matter.

This is gonna give new meaning to the "Last Frontier!" And bonus, don't forget: we can all see Russia from our houses!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

I'm Sure There's a Perfectly Reasonable Explanation for This

Truly you guys. I am sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why the Trump transition team asked the State Department for information about women's issues and programs. 

Specifically--and according to NOTORIOUS FAKE NEWS! purveyor the Washington Post--Trump's peeps were fishing for info on all existing programs and activities that “promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc.”

Now a cynic might infer malicious intent into this request, because a cynic might think about Trump's tendency to "grab women by the pussy" without "even waiting," "move on them like a bitch," feel up his own daughter in public, point out that you can't be a ten if you're flat-chested, tell Howard Stern that he doesn't respect women, call women who criticize him fat, pigs, nasty, dogs, and slobs, and so on and so forth.

But personally, I'm willing to give Vladimir Cheetos the benefit of the doubt. Here are 10 perfectly reasonable explanations for why Trump wants info from the State Department on gender equity programs and issues:

1. He's developing a nuclear arsenal stocked with silicone titties.

2. He wants every little girl in the world to have the chance to be Miss Universe someday.

3. He's starting an international Rockettes training program in Moscow.

4. He loves pussy (who doesn't)?

5. He wants to give everyone who worked on gender issues a promotion, right before he screams "YOU'RE FIRED!" Apprentice-style.

6. He's trying to drain the swamp of anyone with a menstrual cycle, because "blood coming out of your whatever" is totally bottom-of-the-swamp type shit.

7. He wants to make gender-based violence great again.

8. Ivanka wants every woman in the State Department to personally promote her line of jewelry.

9. He needs to know how many tiaras to order for the inaugural ball.

10. He's planning to screen test each of these women to see which of them is telegenic enough remain on the D.C. cast of his next NBC reality TV show (working title: West Wing II: The Next Four Years).

Trump! You CRAY!

One of the benefits of being Trump's 17,000,498th Twitter follower is that I have instant access to his bon mots, which is French for tweets.

And by bon mots/tweets, I mean each fetid word-turd that burbles up in his brain, travels down a synaptic nerve pathway lubed up with McDonald's hamburger grease, enters his tiny fingers, translates itself into CAPITAL LETTERS AND MISSPELLED/MADE-UP WORDS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS ON AN UNSECURED GALAXY NOTE 7!!!, blasts its way through the series of tubes known as the Internet, and lands on my eyeballs where it cannot be unseen.

Such was today's tweet, which I had the misfortune to read within 21 minutes of its posting:

DAFUQ, DONALD?! This tweet has zero chill. ZERO CHILL!!!!  We need to "greatly strengthen and expand" our nuclear capability? Until such time as "the world comes to its senses?!" How about YOU come to your senses, Vladimir Cheetos?

It's time to take the keys away from grandpa, and by the keys I mean Twitter and by grandpa I mean Grandpa Donald Trump with a spray tan, veneers, and a corn-silk toupee. I didn't come this (read: not very) far in life only to evaporate at the hands of someone who Scotch tapes his tie, and I know you didn't either. 

Seriously, he's going to put us in the Shroom Cloud. And as I say above, I don't mean the fun kind of Shroom Cloud where you can't stop looking at your own face in the mirror, or the delicious Shroom Cloud that's the name of a speciality pizza at a brew pub in a west coast ski town.

What I mean is the real, Einsteinian, Homer Simpsonian, old school nuclear fission Shroom Cloud! The kind that Baby Boomers would hide under their desks in school to avoid. 

Here's the good news though you guys: the Baby Boomer generation had to hide from a nuclear holocaust under their desks, and our generation of young children has to do the same kind of drill for an active shooter.

So this actually cuts down on Big Government and the feds trying to dictate our kids' education by combining a nuclear holocaust drill and an active shooter drill into one big apocalypse prep drill!

See?! He's not even in office, and already Trump is #MAGA MOTHAFUCKAHAAZZZZZ!!!! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

One of My College Classmates is Literally Going to Mars, and I Officially Give Up

My first mistake, as always, was opening it. 

"It" is the college alumni magazine that comes to my house every month for free. It's almost like they know the only thing I do with it is look at the obituaries to find out who died, because at least then I won at life. 

Then I read further, find out that whoever it was "leaves behind 3 children" and that they cured a major illness while chairing a department at Harvard Medical School two years before their death. 

Then I hate myself even more.

This month's issue did not disappoint. I was just congratulating myself for donning real pants at 3:30 p.m. on the darkest day of the year, when I read that one of my classmates is literally going to Mars. I remembered this woman, whose name is Jessica, correctly recalling that she'd grown up in a small town in Northern Maine and was roommates with someone I knew.

I skimmed the rest of the article, which detailed past covers of this magazine in which Jessica had been featured (this wasn't her first, of course), and then all of the other things she did like play flute in a symphony, survive in the woods alone for a week before joining NASA, get a PhD in microbiology, and part the Red Sea or something. And to add salt to the wounds, none of her pics were even clearly selfies!

"But you have two beautiful chiiiiiiiiildren," I heard the World at Large reassure me in a distinctly saccharine, feminine voice designed to keep me from realizing my full potential as a rocket scientist and woodwind virtuoso.

"Oh, you mean the two beautiful children who just spoke to me in a 'fresh' tone of voice while cleaning and forced me to scream, 'I'M THE PARENT DO NOT SPEAK TO ME IN A FRESH TONE OF VOICE! AND STOP BEING MEAN TO ME! OR NO iPAD FOR A WEEK!," as I clomped up the stairs. Those two beautiful children?," I retorted smugly to the world.

The world, incidentally, that a woman my exact same age and who had been afforded the same educational opportunities was about to see from FUCKING OUTER SPACE!!!!


Because she was good at math, worked hard, abstained from drugs and alcohol (I'm just guessing on that one), followed the dreams she had been incubating since age 5 (per the article), and had refused to mindlessly allow her entire life's course to be dictated by her ovaries or a registry at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Nope. Jessica wasn't going to peruse the ramekin selection at Sur le Table. Jessica was going to Mars. 

Jessica is the picture I'm going to show to Paige when I'm tempted to tell her that life is a series of diminishing dreams that peak in fourth grade. Just because the closest I've come to Mars is mixing a Codeine with half a bottle box of wine while reading Elon Musk's Wikipedia page doesn't mean that the same fate will befall my daughter. 

Right? Right!?

It's not too late for Paige, but it is for me. One of my college classmates is literally going to Mars, and I officially give up.


I went home sick from work this morning. 

I knew when I woke up that something wasn't right, but I thought I would power through, because it's a personal point of pride for me to almost never call in sick for work. Which, of course, is why the few sick days I do take usually begin about an hour after I get to my office. Today, Juneau's latest stomach bug got the better of me, and I was not fit for polite company. 

After a nap and some dry toast, I jumped, startled, when I heard the sound of avalanche work being done somewhere in the distance behind our house, and I began to think about patterns big and small.

After more than a decade in Juneau, I certainly know the sound of an avalanche bomb when I hear it, but each time I do, it startles me. On the rare occasions that I'm not feeling well and go to work anyway, I know I'm going to have to come home, but I always try to make it through the day. 

I never seem to learn. It's a pattern. 

Patterns occur in nature, mathematics, politics, history, and in human relationships and interactions, which comprise both politics and history. The problem with patterns among humans is that our own egos always push us toward the goal of exemption, which can be futile and dangerous.

What I mean by that is that everyone wants to think they are exempt from somebody else's pattern. It's one of the most compelling fantasies there is, and it prevents us from protecting ourselves and leaves us vulnerable.

Think about it. Every great romance involves being the one man or woman (usually woman) to win the heart of a hopelessly-hard-to-pin-down love interest. It's the suitor's ego that insists they will be "the one" to crack the target's emotional code. 

The same is true of friends who gossip incessantly or always have a gripe about someone. We listen, and we think we're immune, but we're not. They're talking about us, too. And of course, the same is true on a more global scale, with world leaders, all of whom are flawed human beings, and polities, all of which are composed only of more flawed human beings.

Certain types of leaders, like the one we just elected President, have autocratic tendencies: delicate egos and overreaction to criticism; a related clamping down on free thought and free press; an incurious intellect; greed; willingness to exploit fear of "otherness"; militarization of their rule. And people, predictably, follow a pattern of falling into line. 

This is the pattern of fascism. It's only our own collective ego of "American Exceptionalism" that convinces us we are exempt from patterns that centuries of human history have laid bare for anyone who is willing to see the forest despite the proverbial trees.

When we set aside our own egos and look at that forest though--look for the patterns--it's easier to plan. It's easier to accept what we are seeing and experiencing. It's easier to remember the last time this happened, whatever "this" happens to be. 

See, patterns are by definition predictable, and predictability is a pattern's greatest flaw and our greatest asset. Once you accept the reality that you're in the woods, you can use the powerful knowledge of patterns to find your way out again.