Monday, April 30, 2007

Reality Reading

I'm going to be offline for a few days, so I'm suggesting some links to reading material worth your time.

There are two items from Mark Steyn, a writer I can never read enough of, and two from Victor Davis Hanson, a historian who has forgotten more than I'll ever know.

All that intelligent reality can be somewhat sobering, if not outright depressing, so Frank Gaffney's blog on his book, War Footing, is linked here. You'll find ten viable steps America could take to proactively defend itself from Islamic terror--the operative word being "could."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Understanding the Enemy

"You still don't get it, do you? He'll find her! That's what he does--that's all he does! You can't stop him--he'll wade through you until he's cut her throat, and pull her (bleeping) heart out!"

~ from The Terminator, 1984

I think it's time for the character of Kyle Reese to address Congress.

Reese, the hapless hero of the original "Terminator" movie, understood exactly what he was fighting against. Take his quote, above, and insert "Congress" for "you," "Al Qaeda" for "him," and "America" for "her." It will provide a good indication of the consequences of failing to take the war in the Middle East seriously.

Senators Joe Lieberman and John Thune have spoken eloquently on this subject, as have presidential hopefuls Rudy Guiliani and Mitt Romney. Lawrence Wright, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" has expressed his near despair with the lack of comprehension of the danger we are in on the part of politicians and intelligence agencies.

George Bush, the Republican party, Halliburton, and the Christian right are not America's enemies. Those who behead civilians on videotape and disembowel hostage aid workers are our enemies. It is beyond incomprehensible that this distinction requires underscoring, especially to our "leaders," but it does.

Knowledge is power. Know that we have a deadly enemy, and understand that "he'll wade through you until he's cut her throat."

Joe Lieberman put it very well when he wrote:
To me, there is only one choice that protects America's security -- and that is
to stand, and fight, and win.

Reese would have approved.

UPDATE: A link to further proof that the enemy means business. So should we.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Freezing Time

O call back yesterday,
bid time return
~ Richard II, Act III:2

No matter how much support we receive from friends and family, grief remains a lonely road to travel.

At the end of each day, the loss is ours to bear. The sadness, the heartache, the longing and regret are all uniquely our own, born of our personal relationship with the dead. The emotions must be met and mastered individually, each at our own pace and in our own way and time.

In the fifteen months since my husband died, I’ve run an obstacle course over a wide spectrum of emotions, many of which were brand new--some, even frightening. But life goes on in its unrelenting cycle of sunrises and sunsets. Regardless of our mental state on any given day, we get swept along in the tide of daily routines.

The most challenging mental aspect of widowhood, for me, has been what I call the “freeze frame effect.” In this state of mind, nothing should change from the way things were on the day Pete died. His clothes remain in our closet, his medications on the bathroom shelf. It is irrelevant that the clothing hangs unworn and the medicine is past its expiration date. In my frozen frame of mind, these things belonged to Pete and need to stay where they are.

Charles Dickens gave a vivid portrayal of the freeze frame effect in Great Expectations with the character Miss Havisham, who, jilted at the altar, stopped the clocks and sat in her rotting wedding dress, day after day, for decades. To me, she no longer seems a crazy old lady, but rather a grand master of the freeze frame effect.

In Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking, she relates how she could not bring herself to get rid of her dead husband’s shoes. If he came back, she reasoned, he would need them. Thus Didion also suffers from the freeze frame effect, which she terms “magical thinking.” I suppose it is exactly that, for I still sleep on “my” side of the bed (to give Pete room), still keep his computer folders intact (he worked so hard setting them up), still park on the left side of the driveway (to leave room for Pete’s truck).

How long this irrationality will persist is uncharted territory, but I think I’m making small progress towards greater practicality in dealing with my loss. I noticed this last month, when I made what is, to me, a giant leap forward into the present.

While Pete was a tall guy, 6’4, I’m what is kindly referred to as “petite.” He used to monitor the sales on paper products and buy the army-sized packages, then store them on the very top shelf of our floor-to-ceiling linen closet. Replacements would magically appear in each room, as needed, as though I had a butler. Pete stayed ahead of the paper wave, and I never had to go searching for supplies.

After Pete’s death, each time I needed a roll of paper towels, or toilet paper, or a box of tissues, I would climb on the bathtub, then onto the counter, then step over to a closet shelf. Risking life and limb, I would grope around and fish down the needed item from the top shelf, usually letting it bounce over my head and onto the floor as I gave my full attention to a safe descent from my precarious perch.

Honestly, I’m not stupid—merely bereft. Bereaved people don’t think logically. The top shelf was the proper place for such items, because that’s where Pete had kept them. In frozen frame mindset, the inconvenient location made incontrovertible sense.

In March, as I steeled myself for another ascent to the top shelf, I suddenly stopped and asked myself a long overdue question. Why am I keeping everyday items in such an inaccessible place? The answer was as unavoidable as it was illogical: Because that’s where Pete always kept them.

I retrieved a ladder from the garage and moved all the paper supplies down to a lower shelf, where I can open the door, look at the full inventory, reach in without physical peril and grab what I need, all within a few seconds. “Sorry, honey, but I need them down here,” I heard myself mutter.

I could almost hear Pete’s relieved response: “Finally!”

One frame is unfrozen, for which I am thankful. Emboldened by this milestone, last week I tried parking the car in the center of the driveway. Somehow, it didn’t seem right. I’ve reverted to parking on the left side and accepted the fact that unfreezing my life’s frames will be a glacially slow process. Like deep snowbanks under a fine mist of rain, life’s frozen frames can defrost only gradually, through time and tears.

At least now the tissues are within easy reach.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Silliness, Squared

Sheryl Crow needs a hobby.

If she’s fretting about the lengths of toilet paper involved with our clean-ups, Crow is definitely in need of a more constructive focal point. How does one even have the time (or the stomach) to dwell upon the disturbing visuals undoubtedly produced by imagining the efficient application of one sheet of TP?

Exactly how this dearth of toilet paper will square (you should pardon the term) with all of those private celebrity jets green-gassing up the atmosphere is beyond the cognitive powers of this particular member of “the little people.”

When I watched the Academy Awards in February and heard the triumphant announcement that “the Oscars have gone green,” I couldn’t help but wonder when the hybrid-fueled, Oscar community bus is scheduled to start unloading the environmentally responsible stars, en masse, onto the red carpet. Wouldn’t a hybrid bus or two save precious fuel resources? With the usual traffic jam of one-by-one stretch limousines delivering their famous cargo on Oscar night, the only thing “going green” was the color of the smog blanket over Los Angeles.

Evidently, Sheryl Crow didn’t notice that. She must have been in the restroom.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

One of Each

Just as I have a daughter and a son, I now have male and female soldiers to support.

I'm very happy about the new addition.

Here's how my growing family of troops evolved: Soldiers' Angels recently issued me a new soldier at my request, since 1SG Rob is scheduled to head home by the end of April. I've already corresponded with my new troop, and he's already a satisfied customer in receipt of his first care package.

Preparations for the next care package were well underway when I received an e-mail from Sgt. Rob, telling me about a woman solider who has volunteered to stay on in Iraq past the end of her tour of duty. He supplied me with her name and mailing address and suggested that I consider supporting her.

Now, I ask you, dear readers--what lame excuse of a Soldiers' Angel is going to refuse such a request from her returning hero?

So now I have one of each, "a boy and a girl," to support with letters, cards, and care packages. I've always hoped that eventually I would have the opportunity to adopt a woman soldier. Shopping for her goody box is a little bit different, also a bit more fun. I just imagine myself "in the field" and can conjure up a pretty good scenario of stuff a gal soldier might want to receive.

Thanks to Sgt. Rob, I've got my wish for a woman soldier and a "family" of two troops to provide for. It's one of the many rewards of being a Soldiers' Angel.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Illness Within

I have a very simple way of dealing with the disgusting media exploitation of the Virginia Tech massacre.

I don’t watch it.

Last night, when the nauseating non-stop glorification of the evil sicko-killer started on the evening news, I took my dog for a one-hour walk. The television remained dark and silent when I returned, quite purposely. Today, I find that it’s rather challenging to find internet news links to stories on the victims. Most of the coverage is incessant, sensationalized articles about the evil sicko-murderer.

Tonight, my television set remains dark and silent. It will probably stay that way for several more days.

You won’t find the evil sicko-killer's name in anything I write. There are roughly a billion other places you can read it, if you want to. His personal agenda was easily fulfilled by our moronic, soulless, totally predictable MSM.

There are 32 stories I want to see covered. I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of Americans who want to see the same thing. But because our civilization is in moral decay, because the ruling media elites are industriously dismantling and destroying anything of worth or decency in our society, those stories will be a long time in coming. In fact, we may never get to learn more about the students, and teachers, who died.

These slaughtered innocents were the promise of tomorrow. A budding branch of our future has been ripped away from us, the brightness of their lights extinguished. That is the important story. Their parents, their families and loved ones who are suffering unimaginable grief, they are the important story.

The evil sicko-killer was a contemptible coward who chose a classic coward’s way out of this world. He is not important, no matter what NBC and the bandwagon networks try to sell us in their pathetic attempts to justify their crass greed and weakness. As the media continues to ram the evil sicko-killer’s twisted garbage down the public’s throat, the families of Virginia Tech must suffer further pain from this blatant pandering for ratings. That is beyond outrageous. It is an intolerable obscenity.

I'm not sure how long it will take me to stomach the thought of watching anything presented on NBC.

One psychiatrist has termed the incessant exposure to the evil sicko-killer a “social catastrophe.” He’s is a lone voice crying in a bleak wilderness, but he is absolutely correct. How tragic that our media culture is far too diseased to recognize that fact.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

For Virginia Tech

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.
Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.
For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.
My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.
By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.
I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.
I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.
Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.
For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping.
Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.
But thou, O LORD, shall endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.
Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.
For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.
So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.
When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.
For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth;
To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;
To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem;
When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.
I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.
Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.
The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Cancer Question

Fred Thompson's revelation that he was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 shines yet another spotlight upon high profile public figures grappling with a disease that lives up to its name. Cancer, from Latin for "the crab," digs deeply into its victims--in every way. Physically, most certainly, but also mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

As the surviving spouse of a cancer victim, I can speak with a certain degree of confidence on this subject. My husband's initial diagnosis, in the mid-1990s, was grim in the extreme; he was given virtually no chance of survival. Not only did Pete survive, albeit following a one-year period of horrific complications and medical crises, he lived another dozen years. In those "bonus years," as I term them, he achieved some of his life's most worthwhile accomplishments.

Thus, I have little patience with those who would second-guess the motives and wisdom of the brave souls who are battling the cancer dragon with work. Being able to work, to contribute, to put one's talents to good use, is a huge therapeutic blessing to a person with cancer. Cancer survivors understand the value of time, effort, and achievement in a way that healthy people can not truly fathom.

Cancer also teaches both victims and loved ones that we are all vulnerable to death at any given moment. Simply having a clean bill of health today is no guarantee for tomorrow. An outwardly healthy president could drop dead of a stroke or heart attack. So all the "what if it comes back" people can take their seats, please. Any one of us could easily be dead long before Fred Thompson. Not to be morbid, but some of us will be.

Chasing a presidential dream sets the goal bar about as high as it can go. If Fred Thompson decides he feels up to running for president, I say go for it. I've seen the type of focused energy and determination that emerges in the wake of cancer, and this country would benefit from it.

Would I vote for Fred Thompson, if he does end up running? Without a second thought.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Mystery of Holy Thursday

Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Tonight, Holy Thursday, remembers the beginning of Our Lord's Passion. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus faced down his final doubts about his mission on earth. He made his decision to go ahead and die for us, to redeem our sins and clear the path to heaven for humanity. His subsequent actions teach us to hold on, to have faith in the dark times, no matter how terrifying they may be.

In the fullness of Our Lord's human fear and suffering, how tempting it must have been to turn away from such a brutal and unjust death. He could have done it, easily. Our Lord could have walked out of that garden and vanished into obscurity. Knowing how much of his sacrifice would be wasted on selfish, sinful, ungrateful humanity, it seems almost insane that he didn't walk away.

It seems that way, because we are so limited. From our narrow human perspective, there is never adequate justification for our own suffering--even if we have brought it upon ourselves, through our own actions. To observe Our Lord quietly accepting his terrible fate, when he knew he deserved not a moment of it--well, it's crazy.

There is something truly beyond all reason in Divine love. I don't understand it, but I try to accept it. It's a struggle sometimes, because as a human being God's ways often don't make sense to me. I've been knocked to the ground more than once, most recently last year, when my husband died. But we are human, thus by definition sinners. Mortal suffering is our cross to bear, so to speak.

But Jesus Christ is Lord. Yet he went willingly and died a gruesome, agonizing death, to show us how to find our way through worldly suffering.

How insane is it to love that much? God only knows.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ten Random Thoughts

I think that…

…too many people are running for president.

…Nancy Pelosi is a witch, only spelled with a “b.”

…dogs ate people food for thousands of years, and it worked fine.

…Rosie O’Donnell should not be walking the streets.

…nothing will get done in Congress until 2009, at the earliest.

…”Jericho” is a better show than “24.”

…we shouldn’t be surprised the next time Iran takes hostages.

…global warming won’t improve while China is building factories.

…I should have done more for Lent.

…the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan should get more mail.