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Of Politics, Sports and Sex

OK, so there won't be a LOT on here about sex, but tell the truth, that's most of the reason you entered this site, right? So, I'll slip some things in from time to time just to keep you coming...back.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Usually sex leads to kids, but in this case, learning about raising kids can lead to learning about sex

I remember many years ago, when my brother and sister-in-law had their second child a few years after the first one, when she was asked if she'd been surprised by anything in raising them, she said, "Yeah, I thought I could use all the things I learned in raising my first kid to raise my second, but they are completely different and almost nothing works the same with the second kid!"

I think that would be among the most important pieces of advice I would give my son about sex. Just when you think you have it figured out with one girl, and you try the same thing with the next one, you realize the knowledge is not transferable, and you have to start learning what works all over again. Well, except all that dumb stuff about communication and meeting each other's needs blahblahblah. :-)

Please ask me to re-read this next time I get into an argument with you.

As I was writing the post below this one, in one of those inter-connected moments, a friend came into the room to tell me about some problems he's having with his wife. He said it's not too big a deal, though quixotically, again, if that's the right word, (do these things have thesauruses?), he added that he wasn't sure, if they didn't have kids, if they'd still be married. But it's not a big deal.

They were having a 2-day long argument, though they've had longer ones where he's slept in another room for 3-4 days. Talking with him about it, it gave me a chance to spew all my best advices, from experience, to help get through such arguments with someone we love.

1 - Stay on one issue. If the other person counters with an example of something you did, tell them that they may be right, but let's come back to that later, and stick to this issue for now.
2 - If you feel the other person is being stubborn, tell them that as much trouble as that gets the two of you into, tell her/him that is also part of why you love them or are such good friends with them, because they are people of such conviction and passion.
3 - Validate their points, and ask that they do the same. When Cheryl and I get into arguments, which is remarkably rare, sometimes it feels like we're just saying the same things over and over again. At those times, I've sometimes asked Cheryl to tell me what she thinks it is I'm saying. And pretty much 100% of the time, she's been wrong...which of course is my fault for explaining it poorly as much or more than it is hers for not understanding, or possible listening well enough. So when she then says Then what are you saying, and I explain it again, almost every single time we've done that, it has brought the argument to a close, possibly as much because it causes the other person, if only for a minute, to take the other person's side and to try to argue their point.
4 -  If possible, in the middle of your anger over this seemingly oh-so-crucial thing you're arguing over, ask yourself if whatever it is will still be important, or even memorable, in 10 years. If not, move on.
5 - The single best piece of advice I turn to when all else fails: I can be right, or I can be love.

Just don't tell anyone I feel this way

A friend came over a few weeks ago to talk about some serious marital problems she was going through and asked if she could make a request of us, but first quite emphatically stressed that we needed to keep her request to ourselves, which we've done without hesitation or problem. She said, "I really need you guys to promise you won't mention this to anyone else because I gotta tell you, you are two of the biggest blabbermouths I know!"

Well, be that as it may (my favorite expression these days), what I said back to her was "Be that as it may, (see?) you also must know that we are also equally capable of keeping things to ourselves, or you wouldn't be making this request of us." It may not have been the most Quakerly of replies, but what I also could have said was that if she thinks we share a lot about the things we know, she'd be amazed at how much we know that we don't tell anyone!

So, on the way to a dinner party that evening, Cheryl and I talked about what she'd said and agreed that for the most part, we don't believe in the concept of gossip when it is applied to the sharing of information about people's lives we care very much about, or even less invested in, for that matter. It's the original form of Social Networking. When I tell things about our lives to our friends, I do it with the full assumption they are going to share that information with others, unless we specifically ask them not to, and even then, one has to assume that doesn't mean it's 100% certain that it won't be shared.

But of course, there is the sharing of information that just has a bad feel to it that falls into a different category. I was talking about the same couple to the Overseer Committee at Meeting and even though I knew that the reason for the break-up was that there was another woman involved, I chose not to share that with the group, as it didn't seem relevant, and I knew it wasn't something they would want spread around. I was pretty sure that I was the only person the husband had told that to at Meeting. And that's not to say that I am always able to be so circumspect, if that's the right word, as I'd like to think I should be. It's hard to keep somethings to oneself sometimes, and I don't know why that is or what the impulse is that causes it or what need it satisfies, but it is a strong one.

We used to call it NFSOH, but we didn't really think it was true!

I have heard two people in the last month or so describe themselves as not having a very good sense of humor. I was totally rocked by this. I guess I'm not surprised at the idea that someone could not have a sense of humor but that they would not only realize it, but admit it.

It has always seemed like a choice to me. If you aren't making jokes or laughing at other people's jokes, it has always seemed like a personality disorder, only by choice, not genetics. But these people seem to be suggesting that that they aren't able to make jokes or laugh as easily when someone says something funny.

How can you not have a sense of humor? It's too easy a comparison, but it's like saying you have no sense of touch or smell. You have to have a sense of humor. It isn't a matter of being a good or bad sense - you just have it. OK, some are funnier than others, I guess, but I don't think of myself as any funnier than most other people I know.

That said, come to think of it, Cheryl and I did go out to dinner the other night with some folks, the husband of which barely smiled the whole night. He seemed to try a few times, but it didn't seem to come easily to him. I wonder if he knows that he doesn't smile or laugh as much as other folks. I kind of have always felt uneasy around people who don't laugh. So maybe that means I'm the one with the personality disorder after all.

Sometimes I wish it wasn't always all about me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two things that are so not a tie

The best thing about hockey is what happens when the score is tied after regulation. The worst thing about hockey is what happens when the score is tied after overtime.

An Important Idea

I came to an obvious epiphany the other day - one that most people probably realize at a far earlier age than did I. And I guess I did realize it earlier, but never in such simple terms.

What people want most in life is to feel important. We want people to know that we have added something, whether it's a particular skill, an idea, something we said, or even a simple random act of kindness. And in most cases, it's important to us that we not just BE important, but that we know other people recognize it.

If we make something beautiful, say, a sculpture, do we admire it and then destroy it or throw it in the closet? Or is the only reason for showing it to others to bring them enjoyment? Probably not.  It's the feeling we get inside when we see their enjoyment. We want to be recognized for our accomplishment, even if it's only when someone pays a sum of money for that sculpture and we never see it or anyone's reaction to it again.

It all comes back to what I believe David Brooks calls  "The Woosh". That feeling you get inside that can never be manufactured or achieved without merit. And ideally, in some people's view, that is all anyone should need to be a part of the bigger society. Instead of money for our efforts, if everyone would just do their best to make the world a better place for us all, using our best talents, that is the reward we'd get for making a perfect meal for someone, or growing the best vegetables, or inventing a way to get water to people who live in arid lands. We'd get The Woosh inside.

But getting back to the original point of how we want to feel important, there is one talent we all have, that doesn't involve making or discovering or creating or inventing. It is a talent that may be the most important of all, and that is...the ability to make people feel important! To recognize them, especially at the smallest of contributions - something a person added to a conversation, someone's beautiful smile, someone's poise or talent for making people feel welcome in their home...or for making people feel important. :-)

Next, he plans to invade a small island in the Caribbean

Everyone's all upset about the Air Traffic Controller at Reagan National Airport falling asleep on the job.

Considering how many people are also upset that more things haven't been named after President Reagan, I would think they would be thrilled that this guy honored him by just doing his best imitation of Reagan in his final months in office...if not his final 2-5 years.

And if anyone needs further proof, do you really think it's a coincidence that it was an air traffic controller who chose to honor Reagan in this way - the very people through whom he first established a reputation as a anti-union tough guy?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Except maybe for this one

If there were any one opinion that everyone agreed on, it wouldn't be an opinion, it would be a fact.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Having kids at such an advanced age...and I'm talking about me, not my kids who are still quite young...brings many people to share with me that "I'll bet they keep you young!"  Well, not exactly. At times they make me feel quite old.

And being a parent has caused me to at times think that I never gave my parents the credit and respect they deserved, and oddly, sometimes I think I gave them too much credit.

Knowing what a struggle it is to remain sane and to be a good attentive parent, putting natural inclinations to do what I want to do aside to do what's best for the kids is a daily struggle, though one that I've gotten used to (and having such cool kids makes it a heckuva lot easier) and is certainly a lot more difficult than my kids realize, I'm sure and more so than I realized when I was their age.

At the same time, when I think about how much I idolized my parents, had them up so high on a pedestal, and still do, I realize that they were no better than anyone else. They didn't have to pass any tests to have kids, at least none I am aware of in this physical realm. They just had us and did the best they knew how to raise us, which most of the time was damn good, and sometimes wasn't.

And I am sure that my dad was a better dad than his dad was, and I am pretty sure I am a better dad than my dad was, and I have no doubt that Trev will be an even better dad than I am. And maybe that is the best gift we can give our kids of all - the knowledge and desire to be the best parent we can be.

Though I do still have a hard time admitting the American League is better than the National League

When I was in high school, I took a lot of pride in being open-minded and swore to myself that as I grew older, I would fight the natural tendency to grow more close-minded, as I had seen from the adults around me.

Now, that I am middle-aged, if by middle-aged, I mean that I expect to live to be 108, I actually think I am even more open minded than I was as a teen and in my 20's.

There are many things I have opened my mind to, including such things as holistic medicine, and the kinds of unexplained phenomenon that go with it, with Reiki the most obvious example, but not limited to that. I am also far more accepting of homosexuality than I remember being back then, although, according to a journal entry from when I was in college that i recently read , that was a path that started with a trip to San Francisco to visit my sister Sherry in 1978, when I hung out with some of her gay friends.

I wonder if that is another of the ways the brains of conservatives and progressives develop differently.

Except for when the Phillies lose on any given day, I mean

Occasionally I come across sayings, though that word doesn't do them justice, that I really like and embrace, like:

Boredom is a choice
Dance like no one is watching
You are responsible for your own happiness

I really like those. There is another one that I have always been interested in, but either didn't understand or maybe agree with, so I've modified it a bit.

That which doesn't kill you or anyone you love, makes you stronger and should be looked at as a positive experience, no matter how tough it is to go through at the time.

Kinda clunky, but it's something I'm going to try to remind myself of when something is really affecting me negatively.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

To old friends

This is an email I just sent to a close college friend and thought I'd post it here as well, since it encapsulates a lot of things I've been thinking about the last few days:

Hey Dan –


I was just thinking of you this morning on my drive into work. I just finished re-reading my journal from my senior year at EC. Actually, I should say reading it, not re-reading it. I hadn’t read any of it since I wrote it over 30 years ago. Anyway, I want to thank you for being such a great friend and apparently listening to me talk way too much about Ruth Fischer. Man was I obsessed. It’s embarrassing to read. But Ruth aside, thanks for being such a great friend anyway. You were a frequent source in the journal of many of my favorite stories back then. Those were a lot of really good times with a lot of really good people. Funny how a group of people we can feel so incredibly close to, who defined so much of our day to day happiness, can then be spread to the distant shores, leaving us with mostly just memories, really great memories, and so little contact. Kinda like going to war, I guess, being so close to people and then never seeing many of them again. And it’s really never replicated in our lives after that. As much as I love and adore my wife and my kids and current group of really close friends, they’ll never play the same kind of role that you did along with the Daves Nich and Coulter, Dalsimer, Ellen, Slocum, Clem, Jim McKey, Stew Young, Anne Fletcher, Reb, Xandy, heck, all of Spanish House, and lots of others for me, and no doubt by the time you became a senior, you had a mostly completely different group. (I remember, thanks to you, that I can’t qualify “unique”, but is it possible to qualify “completely”?).

I see Rellahan pretty much weekly, and Dave Nich once in awhile, but I haven’t seen any of Reb, Dalsimer, Slocum, or Anne Fletcher since they graduated. Well, I crashed Dals’ wedding, but not since then. Can’t even find her on facebook. I see Ellen Jones at Westtown-related events sometimes, and you every 5 years or so, not nearly enough. I haven’t seen Stew in awhile, but I know I will sometime.

Anyway, it’s weird having all those names fresh in my mind again after reading about them in WAY too much detail. But I really did bring all this up just to thank you for being such a great friend those 2 years we were together, and I’m so glad we’ve stayed in touch and see each other once in awhile.

Your friend,

Jamie

As for me, life couldn't be on a more even course and that I do know is very, very good

Seems like there are an awful lot of tumultous events going on in the world right now - the protests about union-busting in Wisconsin among other states, pale in comparison to what has already happened in Tunisia and Egypt and are ongoing in Libya, Yemen, Iran, Bahrain and possibly other countries, including Jordan, tho unfortunately not Saudi Arabia or North Korea.

But what strikes me is how much tumult there is in the lives of many of my friends as well right now, and similarly, it's tough to tell in some cases whether the tumult is for the better or worse. Many involve couples who are either divorcing or are going through marital challenges: Jim & Stephanie, Erika and Greg, Kim and John, Gina and Louis. I can't remember a time when so many of my friends where going through such things.

But on the other side, just in the past few weeks, both Laurie and Kate and now Jim too have recently expressed that they feel like they are in the process of turning their lives around - making good, productive, energizing decisions about the way their lives are going. It seems like they're saying they're tired of taking what life gives them and they are going to take more control of which direction it goes more so than ever before. And in each case, it's so exciting to see, either close up or from afar.

Sure, there are parallels, but only in the sense that two parallel lines never come into contact with each other

I took some unfortunate pride in seeing the parallels between Charlie Sheen and Mohamar Qaddafi and how out of touch they both seem to be before I saw/heard others do the same. But now I'm going to go another direction, which is to say how completely different their relative relations with sanity are.

I am trying hard not to know much about Charlie Sheen's antics involving hookers, cocaine, wild parties, and declaring himself The Winner, but just from reading the first half of this sentence, it's clear I have a pretty general sense of how he's doing.

And it's my conclusion that as opposed to the murderous despot in Libya who is so out of touch with reality, it strikes me that Mr. Sheen may be way more right than those of us who have judged him as oh-so-wrong.

Now here's a gift you can give to me - answers to my many questions!

A recent message in Meeting came from 2 different people who decided they didn't necessarily believe in God, but decided to go ahead and do great things for others anyway, as if the only reason to do good is either, what - to honor God, to follow his beliefs, or maybe to get a chance to get into heaven? I wonder how many people do good things primarily for those kinds of reasons.

Why do we do good things? We do nice things for our partners and for our friends, tho never as often as I'd like. Sometimes we do nice things for people we'll never even meet. Sometimes we do it in hopes of seeing the look on the person's face when they receive our gift of whatever sort. Sometimes we never do receive any appreciation from the recipient, as when we send money to a charity. So why do we do it? Some sense of doing the right thing, feeling guilty because we have so much more than some others do? Or is it to give them a chance to get up to our level of comfort?

Most of all, it just struck me as odd that people felt like they were rebelling in some way by doing good things even if they didn't believe in God...which in the end, is probably all part of His or Her plan anyway.