Saturday, February 28, 2009

Girl Scout cookies are like crack

I go through the exact same thing every year with Girl Scout cookies. I politely look away when coworkers troll the newsroom, hoping to collect FOUR DOLLARS per box for their little son or daughter. Girl Scout cookies to me are like drugs, they are so addictive. All this week I only ate 2 or 3 cookies, even though they were displayed on cabinets....everywhere. This morning I went to the grocery store, and basically had to grab myself by the neck to drag myself away from the Girl Scout table. Whew! That was close.

Then today, as I'm sitting in the ferry waiting line, I see Girl Scouts. They're so cute and full of smiles, dragging a wheelbarrow piled high with cookies. I salivate as I watch then hand out cookies to other cars waiting to watch the boat. I fantasize about the crunchy coconut of the Samoas, the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate of the mints. The girls move closer and closer to me, like slow motion, and I find some hand that doesn't belong to me reaching for my wallet, pulling out a ten dollar bill. Then another hand I don't recognize rolls down the driver's side window, and a voice that doesn't belong to me says, "I want some! One box of Samoas, one of Mints." I'm tempted to shout NEVER MIND, and clamp a hand over my mouth. But once again, this spirit controlling my movements forces me to pay, and grab the cookies. Then this same force opens BOTH BOXES, and begins to eat. And eat. And eat. Delicious, delectable. Oh, my poor tummy.

They are tempting me right now from the passenger chair. I can taste the crumbs in my mouth. I haven't reached for one in five solid minutes, but I'm trapped in here for another 25. The city of Seattle looks so distant on the horizon; I'm sure I could eat both boxes before we can arrive. This is a good test for me, resisting more cookies. I feel like a drug addict on the brink of a breakthrough.

Oh!! Shoot!! I can't do it!! I grab another one and stuff my face.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm a scaredy cat

There are two types of news stories that scare me to death to cover: funerals, and young men. I covered a memorial service last week that almost gave me a heart attack, this week it's the young men. I'm here staring at them right now, but am sitting in my newscar writing this blog as a way to procrastinate. I already have sweaty palms, and I feel anxiety welling within me. I'm afraid of stuttering, or dropping my mic, or having all those eyes looking at me at once. Sometimes I'm amazed that I'm a news reporter, since I was such a shy child. That shyness is still deeply ingrained, but only comes out in certain circumstances.

I'm scared of all young men under 30 - frat boys, firefighters, police officers and soldiers. Don't get me wrong, I think they are great, but from a distance. I admire their public service, and am honored that the soldiers are fighting for my freedom. But I'm deathly afraid to approach them and talk to them. I think "testosterone-ee" men are like viewing wild animals - they look good in uniform, but you should use binoculars to enjoy it.

But, this is my job, and part of my job is doing things that make me feel uncomfortable. I think it builds a stronger character through forcing me to do things I wouldn't normally do. I've noticed my shyness slowly leeching away over the years, and I'm much more comfortable talking to strangers, if they are women or older men. I especially don't mind talking to strangers who are expecting it, or are part of a cause, or rally.

I see the soldiers now, walking to Starbucks, getting teriyaki. They travel in large packs, which makes it even more frightening. They drive big trucks, the wheels crunching gravel. They talk in loud voices, and walk with a swagger. Bless their hearts, they are sacrificing so much for us. But please bless me as well, because I'm scared out of my mind.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ferry Crowding

There are some social situations that are just awkward. One of them is when a person is facing you in the elevator. Another is when a person is facing you on the ferry.

I caught one ferry earlier than normal today, which means I'm tired and cranky. It will all go away in a couple of hours, but right now I'm easily annoyed. For some reason, all the people sharing my "booth" on the ferry are driving me nuts. There are 4 people sitting near me, chatting. I want them all the leave. I want the entire booth to myself. I don't want someone's knees 2 feet from mine, or someone's foot 5 inches from my backpack. GO AWAY. I seem to have a problem with my space being invaded.

Right as I type this, the two men sitting directly across from me got up and moved away. I wonder if they got my strong brain waves, or read my thoughts. They were sitting there most of the trip, talking and looking over my head. They weren't being loud, or obnoxious. They were well-dressed and on their way to work. Why was this bothering me so much? I think when I'm tired, everything bothers me. Certain lighting bothers me, voices bother me, my arm is sore, I don't like the way my hair feels on my neck. Yes, I have sensory sensitivity issues.

Luckily, I know this annoyance will go away. It's a symptom of my taking forever to wake up. I got 7 hours of sleep, so enough, but I'm still groggy and chugging coffee. All I have to say is thank goodness I don't work the morning shift, or my coworkers would hate me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In a room with Evil

I felt like I was in my own version of "Silence of the Lambs" as deputies wheeled this shackled man into his courtroom. He's an accused rapist and murderer, and other violent attacks against women. His arms and legs were bound, a taser wrapped around his arm. The only thing missing was Hannibal Lecter's face mask, which he really needs after I heard him unfurl a string of obscenities. The extreme security measures were put in place after Curtis Thompson tried to attack jail guards, and lunged at his own attorney.
I had to sit within yards of this man in a King County Courthouse. Evil oozed from his pores, and I was afraid if his eyes met mine I'd turn to stone. His stringy hair was tied in a ponytail, his lips curled in a sneer. He started at the testifying detectives like he could kill in an instant. He shouted cuss words at the judge and his attorney in a deep, robust voice. I had flashes of him yelling at his victims that way, and it gave me chills. I could tell this was a seriously disturbed, mentally ill man, someone who I felt could be inhabited by the devil.
There aren't man people who I feel are truly evil, that I can feel their energy circling mine, threatening my sanity. At the same time I wanted to run for dear life and attack this man for brutalizing so many women. I could have become the news story in that courtroom.
I wonder what makes people so evil? How can someone get so screwed up in the head that they rape and murder? What events plagued this man's life to make him that way, or was he born with this evil already in him? Criminals like this scare me, and I hope to God I never come in contact with one out on the street. I hope justice is served against this psychopath.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Favorite neighborhood?

I have yet to really find my favorite neighborhoods in Seattle. David and I went to town to run some errands on Saturday, and I forlornly said, "Where do you want to go?" The day was beautiful, but I couldn't think of anywhere fun, cute, and funky to walk around. It was slightly depressing. If I were in Portland, I'd know exactly where to go, and it's probably because I grew up there.

I'd go to 23rd street for espresso and boutique shopping, and to the Pearl District for martini bars and upscale kitchen stores. I'd go to Hawthorne or Belmont to mingle with hippies and look at African drums, maybe catch a movie and beer at a McMenamins theater. I'd go to NE 28th street for the most delectable happy hour imaginable at La Tabla, where bartenders with pierced lips serve fancy cocktails. I'd walk down to Burnside to go shopping for vintage clothes or furniture, or Alberta to look at the new art galleries and old homes with huge, wraparound porches. I love that traffic is slow, and that almost everyone is friendly.
When I first came to Seattle, I enjoyed Queen Anne. But I soon tired of the snotty "Greek system" mentality, and girls with jeans that didn't cover their rears. David and I used to walk around Capitol Hill, but that lost its luster very quickly for me. Greenwood is cute, but a little too busy and indifferent, and Green Lake is stocked with too many bikes and rollerbladers. Redmond with its windy one-way streets is too confusing, Lake City too trashy. Bellevue too plastic. Fremont doesn't do much for me either. I think Ballard may be the closest I've found to home. I love the coffee shops, and the funky bars. I love La Carta de Oaxaca and that delicious cupcake store. There are also entertaining botiques and furniture stores.
Another of my favorites is Bainbridge Island, which is precisely why I live there. I love the trees and parks and beaches, and that people drive a little slower. There are a handful of delicious restaurants, and exquisite art galleries and bookstores. I wish I could stay there all week long and go to Seattle only for special occasions.
Why can't I find many places to fit in here? Where is your favorite place to hang out? What is your favorite neighborhood?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ferry Watch - short story

Every day, the old man is there. He stands wearing a brown tweed coat and bowler hat, watching for the love of his life. The feet and legs of the passing commuters pass by in a blur; red, white, brown, black shoes flashing before him. They are all in such a hurry, rushing, bumping, knocking people over. It’s a shame how manners disappear over the years, victim to this frenzied society. Every person who turns the corner from the ferry walkway could be her. He can’t wait to see her, to take her warm, smooth hand, to help her into their beat-up Buick from 1971.

Every day, he remembers the first day he saw her. He’d had a tough day at work and sat at a mahogany bar, ice cubes clinking in his tumbler of Jack Daniels. She’d appeared on the dance floor, her face smooth alabaster; her legs mother of pearl. He loved the way her slender calves disappeared into refined ankles. She glided through the air like an angel with wings, dancing a smooth foxtrot to a record of Frank Sinatra. The dance floor was dark, her lips bright red. Oh how he longed to touch her face, to hold her hand, to sweep her away. Suddenly he felt jealous of the man who held her.

He remembers the way she looked at him for the first time. Her deep, brown eyes were liquid, full of secrets, framed by luxurious black lashes. She’d seen him watching her, and after thanking her dance partner, joined him at the bar. She perched there like a dainty bird, her black heels hooked over the bar stool. He was mesmerized by her long, nimble fingers as she dug into her beaded purse for a 5 dollar bill.

“I’ll get that,” he whispered, touching her hand. At that moment, the world stood still. She looked at him slowly. Oh! How he could drown in those eyes forever. Oh! His heart beat so rapidly he was sure he would die if she placed her head against his breast.

“I’m Cindy,” she said, her voice a soft velvet that took his breath away.
“I’m Standford.” In that moment, he knew. This woman of alabaster and pearl would be his wife.

Every day, the man realized how lucky he was. She’d married him, been with him for the past 40 years. He still marveled that he got to wake up to her every day, to see her breath, to touch her paper-thin cheek.

Then, he saw her and the world slowed down. No longer did he notice the frantic feet or the ringing cell phones. His eyes brightened and his chapped lips curved into a smile. There she was; a vision in black.

The woman walked toward him with her head held high, her red lips stark against her pale face. He didn’t notice how wrinkles folded into her eyes, or ran rivers down her cheeks. He didn’t see the sun ray lines that crinkled when she smiled.

“Hello Standford, are you ready to go home?”
“Yes, for forever and a day.”

Once again, he took her hand in his, and felt his heart beat wildly in his chest. Once again, he opened the car door of the Buick and helped her inside. Once again, he realized he was the luckiest man alive. Heaven was her eyes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Battle of the Bus

When I am riding the bus, my seat is my territory. I own it, and it's mine to guard and defend. Yes, that dingy, cracked, green seat is my tiny country. That seat is big enough to hold most average sized bodies, and their luggage. Today, I had to teach a man a lesson who sat next to me.



He threw himself next to me with vigor, sprawling his legs to each side in a gigantic "V". His luggage sat haphazardly in his lap. He was an older man, white hair, wearing a green and blue plastic coat. I saw him glance at me several times, his hip pressed against my hip, his knee encroaching into my air space. The line between seats? Yeah, don't cross it. I had an uneasy feeling that he was enjoying this bodily contact with me.



Now, I am the typical American, and I like my space, especially when slimy men are sitting by me. So, I picked up my purse, put it on my lap, and pressed myself to the window, practically made myself stick to the wall of the bus. I looked down, and see that knee coming every closer, his body inching next to mine. Once again, the hip was pushed against my hip. I picked up my lunch, put it on my lap, and actually became the bus. Anger and annoyance bubbled in me, we are sharing this bus, why should I have to become a pancake so you can sprawl out all over both seats. At that point, not an ounce of my body was touching his, and then he kicked his feet over and started playing footsie.



That was enough. I'd had it. Under the pretense of reading my book, I let my 30 pound backpack "accidentally" slide to my right, on top of his leg. The heavy bag sidled itself between him and me, and I pretended to hurridly pick it up, only to let it slide again. TAKE THAT! AND THAT! He got off at the next stop.



Yes, maybe it was cruel for me to be so sensitive, but the bus is a very intimate environment, and I don't need people to throw their legs and arms and butts around in my space. That is why there are individual seats. The bus doesn't need to be one gigantic commuter orgy. I'm glad I had my heavy backpack with me.....nasty men of the world....watch out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Democracy in Action

There's always an air of excitment when I go to our state capitol, Olympia, to cover a story. Sure I moan and groan at the long drive, at sitting hunched over in the newscar to write, and at hanging my head out the window to record so it doesn't sound tinny. I don't like doing my news voice in public, its embarrassing, so I have to wait until people walk by.

Whenever I'm in the Capitol, I marvel at the beautiful buildings, and people in suits rushing to create our laws and control our budget. I love that everyday citizens are walking inside the buildings, protesting and standing up for what they believe in. I love that they rally on the front steps, waving signs and cheering. And I love that lawmakers listen, and if the people are lucky, write the laws accordingly. Democracy sure is an amazing thing that I'm very thankful for.

I interviewed a man today who's living with HIV. He's a young man, probably his late thirties, and looked to be Native American. His eyes are bright, and he smiled a lot while talking to me. His medications cost $1,600 per day, and he depends on state funding and programs to stay alive. The state is considering cutting these programs due to deep budget cuts. Yesterday I interviewed former drug and alcohol addicts, people who've been shot, stabbed, burglarized homes, stolen cars. State programs helped these people get back on their feet, and they regarded me shyly, but happily.

Our government does so much for so many people, that I hope budget cuts don't leave thousands in the dark. I'm happy to tell their stories through the radio, to put a face to the dollars. I'm just glad they have the opportunity to speak with, and perhaps influence lawmakers. That's democracy in action.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What a coincidence!

I almost missed the ferry today, but now I realize everything that just happened pretty much saved me from being out on a dark driveway alone for 2 hours.

7:01pm I got my haircut up near Greenlake, and hurried out the door to catch the 720pm boat. I'd park the car under the viaduct, jump on the ferry, then pick the car back up in the morning before police started handing out tickets. Doing this would save me the $22 bucks it cost roundtrip on the ferry. Leaving the car there is a less than perfect situation, but I was running late and needed to catch that boat, since it was the last one of the day with a bus to my house.

David usually picks me up on the Bainbridge side, but he has band practice tonight, which doesn't finish until 9:15pm. The bus drops me off right at my driveway, so its a perfect alternate way to get home. "Make sure you have your keys!" David reminded me before we left home.

7:06pm I drove like a madwoman down I-5, determined to catch the ferry. I was making perfect timing when a train, a long, stinking, crawling TRAIN blocked my way. I had 4 minutes, and frantically thought of what to do next. I flipped a U-turn, then barreled down Alaskan Way toward the ferry, at this point knowing I'd have to drive the car on and just pay up. I was about to miss the boat anyway, and I'd have to take the car on the 8:10pm just to get home.

7:19pm, and I was just driving through the ticketing area. They usually close the boat at 7:18pm, but let me and one other car on before pulling away. Ahhhh, I relaxed, opened my computer, and thank god, checked my home voicemail. The athletic club had my keys.

Wow. That was close. I imagine the scenario that would have happened. I'd have gotten off the bus on Sunrise Drive, having a long, dark hill to walk down. I would have made it to the door, and realized I didn't have a house key. What would I have done? I don't have cell phone reception there. I would have had to knock on the police officer's door who lives next to me. It would have been terribly embarrassing.

The moral of this story is that David and I ought to have a key hidden somewhere outside the house, and that things happen for a reason. I'm so glad that train blocked my way for several minutes, forcing me to drive on the ferry. Now I can just swing by the athletic club on the way home, and grab my keys. Thank goodness.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why oh Why?

Maybe I'm missing something here, that I don't really understand why stars feel the need to pose nude on the cover of magazines. It's a top story on the ABC website, and you can click through and see all the magazines where stars decided to take their clothes off for a photo shoot. Most of them are women, posed in cute, "I'm a vixen" poses. What is the reasoning behind this, especially when everything is fake and air-brushed? Why do women with husbands and children need to show the world their "goods"? Heidi Klum says her husband Seal saw the pictures, and says "its important to feel sexy in front of your husband." Sure, but does that mean millions of people should be exposed? Why not take nice photos and just share them with him if that is the driving reason?

I don't really have a problem with this per se, but I'm just curious what drives a person to do it. I'd be more impressed if a star with a less than perfect body chose to take her clothes off, instead of a picture perfect model. Everyone knows Heidi Klum is a Victoria's Secret model who is , but does does her nude body need to scream out at us from supermarket checkstands? I think a nude photo is okay if it has a message behind it, or is a moving emotional image.
I find the naked, very famous photo of John Lennon moving, and a form of art. This photo shows him, this mighty star, as exposed in front of his wife. He's giving us an intimacy that doesn't shout, "Hey! Look how hot I am!" It says much, much more. I could stare at this photo for hours, and wonder what is going through his head, what is his relationship like with Yoko, what if he knew he'd be shot only a couple days later? There is so much raw emotion here.
I wish stars would think about the "why" when they take their clothes off, instetad of just wanting to tout their beauty to the world. It's like someone photographed sitting on piles of money, just to show how "rich" they are. How shallow could we get? At least people like John Lennon once graced the world. Who will be next?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Synchronicity

There comes a point in a relationship were your minds start to meld. I think of Spock putting his hands on Captain Kirk's head, and somehow, they become a part of each other, sharing emotions and thoughts. They are still individuals, yet share this inexplicable bond.
David and I had been talking about buying a documentary when we were in San Miguel de Allende, called "Lost and Found in Mexico." It sold by the dozens at the local library, but we just never got around to it. Now that we're home, I haven't been able to keep my mind off that beautiful mountain city. I went to the documentary's website last week, and ordered a copy, thinking it would be a great surprise for David. Every day, I looked excitedly in the mailbox, but to no avail. It just hadn't arrived yet.
A few days ago I noticed David pawing through the mailbox with atypical gusto. He usually doesn't give a rip about the mail. He was sticking his arm deep into the mailbox, peering into its dark contents, then gave up and walked back to the car.
"Looking for something?" I asked him.
"I ordered something," he said coyly, peering at me out of the corners of his eyes. At that moment, I knew, and started to laugh hysterically.
"What??" he asked, confused.
"I ordered something, too," I told him.
"What did you order?"
"It has to do with Mexico...." When I said that it dawned on him: We'd ordered the exact same video to surprise each other. The realization had us both bursting with laughter, staring at each other in disbelief.
My video came in a little white evelope yesterday, his today. Happy Valentine's to us both. The extra 20 dollars is worth the cute story.
So tell me, do you and your sweetie somethings read each other's minds? Or think along the same frequency?

Friday, February 13, 2009

For all you Animal Lovers

This is a heartwarming video of the mother's instinct in animals! It almost made me cry! Perfect for Valentine's Day!


video

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What If.....

As a child I always wondered what it would be like to have been born be someone else. I'd sprout hypotheticals constantly to my parents:

"What if I'd been born a beaver, where would I have lived?"

"If I'd been a deer, what would I eat?"

"If I was a tree, would it hurt to be cut down?"

I ruminated these possibilities over and over again. As young as 5 or 6, I thought I could have easily been born into any type of form, whether it was animal or plant or human. As an older child, I'd pretend I was a horse, or a deer in the dark woods, jumping over logs and thick brush. I'd lie under my trees for hours as they told me secrets. I'd stare at my Mother's green eyes, wondering what it would be like to be behind them, what it was like in her world, how she thought of what to say next.

I used to wonder about the universe, about the dimensions of time and space. I thought that our world wasn't at all as it seems, that it's full of secrets. I pictured my physical body on a treadmill, the world moving around me. How do we know what we see is real? Why do we trust our senses so much? These are the questions that plagued my young mind, even before I saw The Matrix.

Sometimes I wonder why I thought these things as a child. I've heard that when we are young, our minds are the closest to a collective conciousness, a force, God. Maybe children know more about the universe than scientists. I find that as I age, I don't think of these things anymore. I wonder what I'll cook for dinner tonight, or what chores I want to accomplish. I think of what bills I'll pay, or what vacation I'll plan next. Sometimes I wish my mind could lift itself from the petty, and focus on these bigger questions of this marvelous universe and world we lived in.

The time to start thinking is now....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Meeting of a President

The newsroom buzzed like a hive for Secret Service agents today. They scanned the crowds with stern eyes, looking tough in black suits, that telltale curly white cord twisting out of their ears. Even a bomb-sniffing dog was brought in to check out the radio studio, where former President Jimmy Carter would be joining us live for an in-person interview.

He arrived with pomp and splendor, flash-bulbs went off, a television camera-person walked backward, one huge eye trained on a United States President. Mr. Carter's smile was huge and genuine, and he walked up to each of us sitting in the "power pod" outside the studio, shaking our hands. I thought he'd forget about me, as a secret service agent stood RIGHT in front of me, but I saw his hand and smiling face bend toward me. Several seconds after shaking his hand I sat there in shock, melting in his energy. I wasn't alive when Jimmy Carter was President, but I understood how big of a deal it is to meet him. Most people never touch a President in their lifetimes.

During a commerical break, we all ran into the studio, one by one, to get our picture taken. This is the most charismatic man I've ever stood next to, and I was honored.

When to make the call

In fast-paced, "feed the beast" profession like radio news, it's hard to know when it's reasonable to call in sick. If I worked at a ho-hum office job, I probably would have taken Monday, Tuesday and today off. It's not like I'm horribly sick or anything, I just don't feel 100 percent. I've been sneezing, my eyes gushing buckets, and very tired, but I'm not achy or seriously stuffed up. If I worked in a profession where I didn't think my contribution was vital, I would take days off without thinking twice.

But working in news radio is a another ball game. I know what it's like when the station is down one reporter. The editor scrambles, the product going over the air suffers (or so I'd like to think). For me, I have to feel really bad for it to make sense for me to call in sick, which usually happens once per year. I did in December, which is why I hesitated to call in this week. In December I felt miserable, and compared to that, I feel pretty good right now. Even though I wish I could snuggle in my bed, and sleep for hours.

I know other members of my radio station feel this self-induced "guilt trip" as well. People will drag themselves in feeling horrid, and the boss literally has to tell them to go home. I don't hesitate to tell one of my coworkers to stay home, rest, get well. But I have a hard time applying that logic to myself. Why is this? I think because as journalists, we really care about the quality of our radio station. It's ownership - that's my station, and I want it to do well. I want to report the news, I want people to be informed.

This is an endless cycle. Sick people come to work, and get others sick, and soon the newsroom is one gigantic raging germ. Sometimes I wish we just wouldn't care so much, but then again, that's the whole point in being in a profession we love.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Garlic Cure

I think I went through the entire cycle of a cold in one day. I woke up sneezing and achy, and knew with dread that a cold was coming on. David has been sick this entire week, and coworkers have also gotten sick, so I knew it was only a matter of time. I knew, even though my breath would be stale for hours, that I needed to break out the garlic.

I often forget about this simple home remedy. But whenever I remember, it seems to work wonders. I finely dice a raw clove of garlic, mix it with mayo, and eat it on a cracker. I'm sure to chew the garlic to release its healing oils, and it burns going down, and often makes me nauseous for a moment. When I googled garlic, this is what I found out:

Allicin and the sulfur compounds of garlic are the ingredients primarily responsible for garlic's potency as an antibiotic, anti-viral and a fungicide and for its use in treating high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and for helping to prevent certain types of cancer, as well as its use as an immune stimulant. Allicin is a strong antibiotic agent produced when the alliin and alliinase are merged together, as happens when a fresh garlic clove is crushed or chewed.

It also can be used to break up the mucus in sinuses, and alleve symptoms of athsma. After I ate the raw garlic, I pictured its compounds riding around my body on red blood cells, destroying every piece of virus in its wake. And what do you know, I think it worked.

I started feeling really crappy yesterday afternoon, and was sure I'd have to call in sick. I was feeling alternately hot and cold, and my nose was running a race. I just felt awful. But by evening, my nose started clearing up, and I felt more energetic. By this morning, I almost feel all the way better, although the nose is still a big congested. I should have eaten another clove of garlic this morning.

I also have to add that I also drank probably 7 cups of tea yesterday, a fruit salad filled with Vitamin C, chicken noodle soup with cayenne, and 2 glasses of cranberry juice.

The moral of this story is: never underestimate the power of natural medicine, and the power of visualization.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dexter - Love it or Hate it

I can't decide how I feel about this show Dexter. On one hand, it seriously disturbs me, enough to make my stomach clench with anxiety and nausea. On the other hand, the premise is so unique and interesting, the dialogue witty enough, that I keep on watching it.

David and I turned on the first episode with dinner plates on our laps, and both of us were so immediately disgusted and transfixed that we stared at the television without taking a bite. When I saw Dexter kidnap this child molester, then cut his cheek with a knife, and strap him to a table using saran wrap, it was too much. I didn't want to know what he'd do next with that pile of knives on the table. My stomach lurched and David yelled, "PAUSE IT!" We sat there motionless for several moments, trying to decide what to do. "Ok, just move it to the next chapter," David said, rather sensibly. Then, the show moved into reasonable territory, and we were able to eat our dinners.

I like true crime books, and crime shows. I love Anne Rule, the true crime genius, and Patricia Cornwall, who writes books from a medical examiner's perspective. I think the "cop" angle of Dexter is interesting. I like forensics. I like when the main character solves crimes using blood spatter analysis. I like the tension and humor.

I think what I can't handle about this show is the pre-meditated murder. Even though Dexter is murdering evil people, I can't get past the fact that he is killing. He stalks people, figures them out, then kills them in really gross ways that leave me feeling sick to my stomach. I come from a perspective that murder is wrong, unless my life or the lives of my loved ones are imminently at risk. It's this reason that I disagree with the death penalty. Two wrongs don't make a right. So when I watch the show, Dexter, something about it is so incredibly wrong to me on a very fundamental level. For that reason, I have a hard time watching it and feel sick to my stomach afterwards. When I watch a show for pleasure, I want it to make me feel good inside.

Like Curb Your Enthusiasm. Or Sex and the City. Or Dancing with the Stars. Or Grey's Anatomy. Yes, all very benign.

I know Dexter and this topic are both very controversial, and for that reason, I think its a great show to spark dialogue.

So, have you seen Dexter? What do you like or dislike about it, and why?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Mixed Homecoming

The first thing I noticed when I got back into the United States were the newspapers. Headlines shouted the bad news about the economy, saying "look at me, things are really failing in this country." I immediately felt a jolt of anxiety about the job market, the stock market, the housing market. After that, I felt anger. How dare the media scare us so much, instead of help us get along in our lives? Is this news, or is this shock journalism? I just came from a third world country, where mothers and their dirty children sat on blankets on street corners, begging for a peso. I came from a place where drug cartels are ruling the border, and hundreds of people are dying. I came from a place with a serious lack of social systems, where poverty scrapes the bottom, and people do anything to get by. They wash the windows of cars waiting at stoplights, they sell gum and flowers to people dining on outdoor patios. Indian women walk for miles into town to sell their hand-sewn dolls.

Here in the United States, we have it good. There are unemployment benefits, welfare, programs for the homeless and hungry. We don't see 5-year-olds peddling gum. Yes, we are in an economic downturn, but we are the richest country in the world. Our own President is talking about a TRILLION dollar stimulus package. What are we complaining about? Yes, it's important to know the facts, but I'm tired of the shouting, the blaming, the screaming, angry black headlines.

On the other hand, it's beautiful being back in my country. It's nice speaking and reading English, seeing the knowing nods of the homeland security agents. My comfortable bed and pillow felt like heaven, and I loved being in my own house all day yesterday. When I first saw Puget Sound again, I felt like a long drought was over. I love seeing the water, the tall pine trees, the scent of earthy forest. I'm thankful I have a job, and that I'm lucky enough to belong to a gym and eat healthy, good food. There is so much here to be thankful for, so much to enjoy, I'm just so sick and tired of all the negativity.