Wednesday, June 21, 2006


So--the trip to Chicago was a two-fer: we went to see the King Tut exhibit for Father's Day. We took the train down all day Saturday, went to the Shedd Aquarium Sunday morning and King Tut in the afternoon.

Because the Bunny is all about trains, we took the El the 10 blocks from our hotel to the Museum Campus, then walked over to the Aquarium. The El is amazingly quiet, but hardly posh. The stations in particular are subject to peeling paint and rusted metal. Of course, the low point of the day was on our return to the hotel, when the train we planned on riding to our stop unexpectedly! turned! left! It wasn't supposed to do that!

We made it back to the hotel, however, and had dinner at The Big Downtown, a restaurant that has trolleys and minature trains running in the bar. The food was amazing and excellent, and we ate ourselves very full, and went back to the hotel.

The next morning, we had about 4 hours to fill before we had to catch our train back, so we went to the planetarium. Of which we used to have one here, but no longer. This time, we took a cab, to save time. The cab drove us down Michigan Avenue, along the beautifully landscaped parkland that lines the lake shore. I was just about to say "this is a much more attractive route than the El" when a jogger crossed in front of us. He was tall, rangy, rather older than I am, with stringy muscles like beef jerky. He had on tiny nylon shorts and no shirt--but a heart rate monitor strapped below his nipples.

He looked like he was wearing a bikini top but had forgotten the top part. Remember Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics? She used to appear on stage wearing electrician's tape to stay "decent." This guy kind of looked like that, without any of the bodaciousness.

Maybe it wasn't such an attractive route after all.

All We Need Really Is Love!

I'm still marinating in U2 music, and it still surprises me on a frequent basis. Just now, I'm listening to a live performance with B.B.King of a song my U2--"When Love Comes to Town."

It's a terrific song, so beautifully suited to B.B.'s voice and his band plays horns in the back, giving the entire thing a decidedly non-U2 sound. And B.B. King's guitar sound is so distinctive, and SO iconic, I assume it takes a real degree of chutzpah on U2's part to play with him.

And then, I saw the video of the rehearsal. Bono is showing B.B. King around the set up on stage and sketching out what they will be doing. And, bless his heart, B.B.King is nervous! Who'd have thought? Bono is talking about what key they will be in, or something, and B.B.King (the man is a GIANT! and not just figuratively!) says:

"I'm not so good with the chord thing."

He's practically scufffing his toe in the dirt, he looks so abashed. Bono hastily says:

"Oh, don't worry. Edge will do THAT."

How revealing! Even B.B. King needs love too!

Casey Jones: Our Hero

We are back from a long weekend in Chicago. We went by train, because the Bunny loves trains. Turns out, we all love them. What a great way to travel! It took eight hours from Saint Paul to downtown Chicago, which is what it takes to drive there--with none of the hassle, tiredness, or bad food that comes with a car trip. Restrooms are always available, and they're so tiny and cute! We ate in the dining car, and had lovely meals. Dinner was excellent, far better than the HoJos on the tollways. Naps were had, kids could walk up to the loounge car for snacks, or just to stretch their legs.

We are dreaming of a longer trip, now. One that requires a sleeper car. Glacier Park is potentially do-able: board at 10:30 at night, arrive the next day at dinner time. And no one is pissed of because SOMEONE can't read a map...

AMTRAK--thousands of marriages saved! Why not yours?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Roll Over Nietzche, Tell Kierkegaard the News!

I've been reading my favorite theologian/philosopher recently: Anne Lamott. You've got to love a writer who says about a particularly bitter break-up that "we said words that perhaps Jesus would not have said."

Her most recent book is "Plan B; Further Thoughts on Faith" which follows the same vein of overtly religious essays I loved in "Traveling Mercies." As I read "Plan B," much of it was familiar, because I had read many of them when they first appeared in Salon. This left me free to read for the subtleties, the nuances I had missed when I read them the first time.

Some of those nuances are new, because she did revise those essays before they were collected in the book. Some of them I missed as I was reading for plot and for her humor. Some nuances are simply invisible when read online. I firmly believe that reading online is a manifestly different act that reading a book, even if the content was identical. Online there is the (rarely resisted) temptation to open new windows, to run audio and maybe even a game of solitare or something. There is something that makes me hurry when I read online, a sense that there is so much content out there, just a click away, and that time is short. It's like gulping down a cold drink on a hot day--you're already taking the next mouthful before you've swallowed the first.

Anyway, this time around, I'm seeing how important it is to her to be tender with herself. The message comes through in essay after essay, especially in her colege graduation address. This is the only life we have, and we need to appreciate the things that matter. Society tells us that we should be productive, rich, we should strive for prestige, or power over others. Anne reminds us that those things are never as fulfilling as we think they will be.

I struggle with this regularly. I always thought of myself as ambitious: someone who wasn't going to settle for anything less than success. I thought I would work my entire life, and would push into the highest levels of whatever I decided to do.

The plan was put into motion when I was accepted into Yale Law School. I chose Yale over Harvard so that I wouldn't tie myself into knots over my grade point average. Yale Law School doesn't calculate grade points or class rank. We graduated in alphabetical order, which meant I graduated second in my class.

Then, I got pregnant. I thought I was just getting ready for a change in my legal focus, that I was bored with doing the same old things. No, it was hormonal, and THAT was a permanent change. Despite all my vows that I would not let motherhood change me--I was changed. Profoundly and permanently I was changed. By the time I was pregnant with my second child, I was seriously struggling wih depression; depression that I believe was triggered by hormonal changes from pregnancy. It was not post-partum depression: it did not pass on its own. It took several years, multiple therapists and more than a single antidepressant to get me back to feeling like someone I could recognize again.

Now, as long as I take my meds, I feel pretty good almost all the time. Once I got the right combination of medications, I suddenly experienced what it was like to be happy. Happy! I had forgotten what that was like! It was such a precious gift, to actually find that i could enjoy my own life. My children were a source of joy, not just an enormous obligation that I feared I couldn't meet. It's still amazing to me: that I have such a wonderful and kind husband, that I have such bright and delightful daughters, that I don't live with fear.

I'm still amazed, daily, that life can be so good. It seems that, after such pain--and it was deep and unremitting pain--such a gift that I've been given; a second chance at life. Isn't that enough? Isn't it enough that I'm no longer half dead, that I'm able to live?

But I don't--at least, not when asked. For me, alone, I am so amazed that I am still here that there is nothing to do but just be grateful. Anne understands that. It is important to be present in your own life, and present to those you love.

Depression makes it hard to be present for those I love, even well managed depression. I still have some seriously bumpy days, and what my family needs from me is not easy for me to give. Emotional support is not something of which I have vast reserves, and I fiercely believe that I am needed to provide stability and support for my family.

I shudder to think what would happen to my fragile state if I tried to add employment to my mix, and I do feel significant cultural pressure to become an economic engine. What I keep asking myself is...why? Why is it not acceptable to simply be grateful for what I have and to tend to my patch of the world? I don't have those answers, but when I read Anne Lamott, I realize that someone else is also asking those questions, and I am not alone.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is This Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Weather around here. Is. Nuts.


Couple of weekends ago, it was pushing 100 degrees. Not long after, we had a weekend where it was struggling to get out of the 50s.

There's a diagnostic code for this, and it's called "bi-polar disorder."

No, it does not have anything to do with the North Pole. Santa Claus is just fine.

It's The End Of The World As We Know It!

From Salon:

Following a hip replacement, doctors have told John Cleese he can no longer do his Monty Python "silly walk." (ContactMusic)

Oh, the horror...

Guess that getting old isn't for sissies.