Posted in Around Town, Uncategorized

Dalai Lama

It is fashionable to like and respect the Dalai Lama. He travels worldwide to promote peace, compassion and harmony. So why was I disappointed in his remarks at the California Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women yesterday?

His Holiness spoke about human compassion, and how we have it “biologically.” Mothers love and care for their children from the moment they are born. Mothers are more sensitive to the suffering of others. The mother’s role is to create a nurturing environment for the family.

This is all well and good, but what about the women who aren’t mothers? Are they somehow ‘less woman’ because they haven’t had children? Are they less sensitive?

It seemed that the Dalai Lama hadn’t prepared any remarks at all, so when he got out there he began to free associate. His first thought about women? His mother. So what does he talk about? Motherhood. Gee, I’ve always wanted to hear the Dalai Lama’s thoughts about motherhood!

He did speak against the war in Iraq, and this is the snippet one can find on his web site. (By the way, he seems to indicate here that he wasn’t opposed to the war in the beginning, that he had a “wait and see” attitude. That doesn’t seem to jive with the whole Buddhist thing.)

All the remembering of his own mother and talking about motherhood rendered His Holiness quite childlike. There were a couple of moments during which, in response to Maria Shriver’s well-put questions, he shrugged, half-answered and giggled. It was apparent that he had no clue what to say when she asked him how women with busy lives can make the time to find stillness. He even said something about his limited experience with this problem (at least he was honest).

It would have been nice to hear him espouse some Buddhist principles, or provide some reassurance that IF one makes the time for stillness, it’s worth the effort because the blah blah blah in the blah blah yields blah blah blah. (I’m not a student of Buddhism, so I’ve resorted to blah.)

Oh my. Looks like Buddhist women have their own ordination issue. Yet another women’s issue!

I mean no disrespect to His Holiness. Free Tibet!

Posted in Self Care, Uncategorized

Bad News Blues & A Palliative

Things that are bugging me:
1. Bush’s policies on torture
2. Things the Pope has said
3. Fires that keep on burning

Today’s antidote? A water aerobics class at my gym. It’s tough (but not killer) and it’s fun, which are the two main ingredients for a good workout. We run in a circle, everyone going in the same direction, and then the instructor says “Reverse!” We collapse into laughter at how difficult it is to turn around and go the other way, because the water is churning in the direction we were just going. The first couple of movements after “Reverse” basically help you stay in place, not move forward. It’s a feeling of helplessness, and we all laugh.

I feel helpless about the things that are bugging me. Thank God for water aerobics to keep it in perspective.

Posted in Around Town, Uncategorized

West vs. East in SoCal

Fear of the other. Blaming. Scapegoating. It’s as old as the Crips and the Bloods, the Hatfields and the McCoys, the Greeks and the Persians.

Apparently, I am no student of history. Last night, I met a writer at a reading at Synergy Cafe. Still bubbly over my good news about my letter being published in the Pasadena Star News, I mentioned it to this writer, who happens to live on the west side of Los Angeles. She asked about the subject matter, and I explained it was in support of funding for more and better tennis courts in Pasadena.

She snorted, “Oh, the poor people in Pasadena. They don’t have enough tennis courts.” Followed by rolling of eyes and tossing of head backwards. She continued, “Well, how many tennis courts are there?” I was caught off-guard and hazarded a guess, “There are 42, but they’re in bad shape.” Someone else commented, “Forty-two sounds like enough to me.”

Hmm. Harumph. Argh. The public perception of Pasadena is that a bunch of rich, white, snobby people live here. The west side of Los Angeles thinks that Pasadena is a suburban, fuddy-duddy, arcane town, full of grandmothers who vote Republican (think “little old lady from Pasadena”).

It is true that Pasadena was founded-settled-invaded (depending on your point of view) by mid-Westerners who had enough money to escape harsh Midwest winters and live here part of the year. They also had enough money to have servants. So there has always been a working-for-low-wages population in Pasadena too.

And there still is. In 1999, 15.9% of Pasadenans were at or below the poverty level (compared with 14.2% for the whole State of California). The census tract that I live in, along with several adjoining ones, comprise a Health Professional Shortage Area (or HPSA). That means that there is one physician for every 21,000 people. In other words, that one physician would have to see 57 people every day for a year to see them all.

LA’s West-siders will continue to talk trash about Pasadena, and I suppose people here will continue to say things like, “Oh! I’m so glad I don’t live on the west side! The traffic is terrible there! And the people are rude!” The same old stuff will continue, but it feels discriminatory to me. Unpleasant. Unfriendly. Unfair. Unnecessary.

If the people in one big American city can’t say nice things about those who happen to live across town, maybe it’s time to quit pretending that we can stop wars and spread democracy.

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

Lee Siegel Exposed

I can’t close my mouth this morning, because I can’t believe what I just read in the NY Times magazine. I love the “Questions For” thing they do each week…a one pager with a full-length photo and some juicy questions for an interesting person. This week the title is Bye-Bye Blogger, and Lee Siegel is on the firing line. As a senior editor at The New Republic, Mr. Siegel had a blog for the magazine. But he didn’t just write the blog, he also posted comments full of praise on his own blog using a pseudonym, Sprezzatura. (Here’s the real Sprezzatura, an LA Blog worth checking out). When Mr. Siegel got found out, he lost the blog and got suspended from the magazine.

Mr. Siegel says some stuff that makes my head spin. “Anonymity is the universal convention of the blogosphere…” Not at this blog baby, and not at the blogs you’ll typically see on my blogroll. Sure, we all might have titles for our blogs, but just click on “about” and you’ll see something real and true about the blogger (however brief). Mr. Siegel goes on, “…and the wicked expedience is that you can speak without consequences” — funny he should say this since his own consequences were so severe.

Again on the topic of anonymity “…I think that is why the blogosphere is thriving. It allows people to develop a fantasy self.” Seems to me that writers have been developing fantasy selves since the first time a writer scratched words onto the wall of a cave. Those fantasy selves become characters in novels, voices in poems.

When asked about his false persona and his apparent immaturity, Mr. Siegel says, “I’m too childlike to be immature.” Barf. I’m too childlike–does that mean he’s too innocent to see that what he did was disingenuous? To be a child is to be immature. To grow up is to take responsibility for one’s actions.

He goes on, “…As Sprezzatura…I was indulging my temperament and abandoning my intellect. Look, putting a polemicist like myself in the blogosphere is like putting someone with an obesity problem in a chocolate factory.” All I can say to that is–Get a room, buddy. I mean, get your own blog. If you want to spend time in the blogosphere hiding behind your ‘fantasy self’ go ahead. Just don’t expect to get paid for it.

Mr. Siegel’s deeper psychological problems continue to be revealed when he says, “For example, there is such a madness to become famous. Obscurity is the new poverty. People don’t seem to bear being unknown. But obscurity and struggle are the artists’ Harvard and Yale.” This from a guy with a public persona. Is he feeling sorry for all of us little peons who blog in the deeper recesses of the blogosphere…blogs like this one with little traffic? Besides, if people want to be known, then why is the blogosphere full of anonymous bloggers? Or is it?

Mr. Siegel seems to believe that anonymous bloggers “vent out the pain of being unacknowledged” by practicing “incessant character assassination” under a pseudonym. This may be happening, I don’t know. But it doesn’t seem logical to me.

Gee, I’m glad I don’t work over at the New Republic. They seem to have some kind of hiring problem over there. They find brilliant writers who get ahead of themselves (a la Shattered Glass)–a “too big for their britches” syndrome. Here’s a little more background about Mr. Siegel, the magazine, and the diminishing fortunes of both.

Dear reader of this blog, you can be assured that this blogger is clear on her blogosphere persona. This is the blog of a 40-something woman writer trying to overcome her insecurities about writing through blogging (and other forms of writing too). I don’t get paid for blogging. I’m not famous. Does that mean I’m obscure? Is that bad? Am I supposed to want to be famous because I’m a writer? Hell, I just want to get paid!

Posted in Tennis, Uncategorized

Little Bits

Headline in today’s newspaper: Bush Denies Allegations.  Only it’s Reggie, not George. It’s ever so suspicious that Reggie is not cooperating with the NCAA.

Overheard at my local independent bookstore, Vroman’s:
“Well, you know, she IS a fetish model.” 

Those of you who frequent Starbucks have seen their “The Way I See It” series…nice little quotes from thinking people printed on their cups.  (Though do try to take your own mug if you can…it’s the greener option and they give you a discount–it’s only 10 cents–but hey, 10 cents is 10 cents.)

#71 “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” –Maureen Dowd

#66 “We are all in this together: women and men, girls and boys.  It takes all of us to change the world.” -Billie Jean King

Posted in Tennis, Uncategorized

Local News: Tennis in Pasadena

Here’s a letter I wrote to the Pasadena Star News. That’s the nice thing about having a blog…even if they don’t publish the letter, I can post it here! Voila!

Tennis in Pasadena: A Victim of Success?

The City of Pasadena’s Human Services and Recreation Department has issued a draft a plan for the city’s recreation services. Unfortunately, this plan doles out a meager portion of resources for the city’s tennis facilities. The current tennis contractor in the city, i-Tennis (also known as Rose Bowl Tennis) has done an excellent job of providing programs for children and adults over the last three years, creating an interest in tennis and a demand for courts. What’s happening now is that the demand for courts has outstripped the availability, and the draft plan does not address this situation.

Some of our local high schools have courts, but they are in disrepair and there are no existing MOUs between Pasadena Unified School District and the City. Neighboring cities like Arcadia and Burbank have more courts, better courts, multiple surfaces and well-maintained lights for night play. Down at Brookside Park, not only are the tennis courts in disrepair, but the sidewalk on the north side of the court enclosure (which is for public pedestrian use by anyone, not just tennis players) is so uneven that several people have fallen, resulting in cuts, bumps and bruises (but not a lawsuit–yet).

If Pasadena is the world-class city it claims to be, it is time to put some funds into a world-class sport, tennis. The United States Tennis Association just named the National Tennis Center after Billie Jean King, a SoCal native who grew up on public courts. If the next Billie Jean is in Pasadena, let’s give her some time on the court.

Posted in Green & Pleasant Land, Self Care, Uncategorized

My Genes Have Bad Teeth

As my dental hygienist said this morning, everyone’s got a weak spot in their body. Mine happens to be my teeth. I’m less than half British, but I’ve got British teeth. You can’t tell that I have British teeth right away because some of my crowns are enamel on the part that shows when I smile (and gold on the inside where it can’t be seen).

But in addition to my rather nice crowns, I have some big old fillings that were installed in a dental surgery in Mildenhall, England, ca. 1975. (It’s not a serious as it sounds…”dental surgery” is the same as “dental office.”) If you make me laugh hard and my lower jaw drops, you will see these works of dental excellence. British dentistry in 1975 wasn’t too far ahead of British dentistry in 1875. The office equipment looked to be right out of a 19th century painting. I know that one day these old fillings, one of my most lasting souvenirs from living in England for six years, will have to be replaced.

Until then, I’m engaged in a pitched battle (this link is not for the faint of heart) to keep my gums healthy. I’ve moved beyond regular maintenance to periodontal maintenance, which means a new little brush to be used post brushing and flossing to get things back in shape.

In the “new, scary things to know” category, a firm link has been established between periodontal disease and heart disease. Those crazy bacteria leave your mouth via your bloodstream and end up dancing their jig in your heart. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US…or not. Let’s just go with heart disease kills a lot of people.

My visit with my new hygienist, Carol, went well. Toward the end of the visit, it was time to polish my teeth. “Close your eyes, ” she said, “the paste has a tendency to fly.”

I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in my bathroom tonight.

Posted in Current Events, Uncategorized

Received on 9/11

Today I got an e-mail that really disturbed me. Here it is:

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of PanAm Flight 103! REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993! REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon! REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the military barracks in Saudi Arabia! REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the American Embassies in Africa! REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the USS COLE! REMEMBER the MUSLIM attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001! REMEMBER all the AMERICAN lives that were lost in those vicious MUSLIM attacks!

Now the United States Postal Service REMEMBERS and HONORS the EID MUSLIM holiday season with a commemorative first class holiday postage stamp. REMEMBER to adamantly and vocally BOYCOTT this stamp when purchasing your stamps at the post office. To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors. REMEMBER to pass this along to every patriotic AMERICAN you know.

Here’s my response:

While no one condones any terrorist attack, it is inappropriate and unfair to blame “Muslims” in a blanket fashion for the attacks on our country. Some Muslims are bad guys, some aren’t. Let’s not be simplistic in our understanding of a complex situation.

The call to boycott the stamp fans the flames of hatred and scapegoats a group of people instead of pinning the blame on militant fundamentalists.

If there’s any reason to boycott the stamp at all, I’d vote for lack of separation between church and state.

Here’s a little bit about Eid from Wikipedia:
“It is a joyous occasion with important religious significance. Happiness is observed at attaining spiritual uplift after a month of fasting. Muslims dress in holiday attire. After attending the special congregational prayer in the morning, worshippers greet and embrace each other in a spirit of peace, love, and brotherhood. Visiting friends and relatives is common.”

Every day is a day to pray for peace. Today we also pray for those whose lives were lost, and those whose lives were irrevocably changed.

Posted in Tennis, Uncategorized

Ad Federer

The only time I’m not for the underdog is when Roger Federer plays tennis. Tomorrow is Sunday, September 10, 2006, and world #1 Roger Federer will defend his US Open title against Andy Roddick. Even if you are not a tennis fan, I recommend checking out at least a few moments of this match (which will be broadcast on CBS at 1:00 pm Pacific). If you don’t like tennis, you may like ballet–that’s reason enough to watch Roger.

The tennis world is in awe of the skill, composure, speed and shot-making abilities of Roger Federer. James Blake can’t say enough good stuff about him.

On top of everything else, he’s a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador. My kind of guy.