Phoning it in.

(I planned to focus on lighter, attempted-humor writing for the new year. Today that plan took a detour. Bygones.)

I’ve never published by phone before. I’ve been drafting a(n arguably) humorous piece about a phone-related incident that I am sure I myself will find funny someday. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere,  maybe because it’s not funny yet.  What I have to say today is not funny,  either.

I wish I could find humor or a clever hashtag game distraction. I wish I could annoy even myself with something naively uplifting.

But what I feel and feel the need to say out loud is loss. I feel today as if I have lost my own daughter.

It seems like we’re getting used to horrific news and desensitized to it. Today, though, I am having trouble going about my day without acknowledging that something unbearably sad has happened.

I’m thinking about how I have encouraged my own children and other mothers’ children to put good things into the world and to always care for others. Today, selfishly, I wish I could take that back.

Today it feels like the more good we put into the world, the more evil finds a way to adapt and to tighten its grip.(Why would autocorrect think I meant “gtip”.What is that??)

I know, of course, that’s not the way I want to think and eventually I will be back on track.

But today I feel like I lost a daughter and it is an unbearable sadness.

I don’t have any images to share and I can barely see the screen to fix whatever autocorrect has wrought. I just wanted to say this because it needed to be said.

Peace, or some inadequate facsimile thereof.

There might be unicorns among us.

The other day I read a bold and intriguing theory, pithily encapsulated in 140 characters or fewer. Regretfully, I can’t give credit where credit is due, because I don’t know the identity of its source.

There I was, minding my own business—which is usually the way when something life-altering happens, isn’t it?  You very rarely hear, “There I was, minding my neighbor’s business . . .”—when something along these lines scrolled across my screen:

“I don’t know, guys. I just saw a BMW with its turn signal on. Maybe unicorns do exist!” 

I’m paraphrasing there. If you counted the characters and came up with more than 140, this might be a good time to remind you that the best things happen when you’re minding your own business.

My first thought in response to this turn signal-based evidence of magical creatures among us, a thought that I had the sense not to express out loud, was to wonder if unicorns are known for their polite and courteous driving. It was a thought that would come back to me, sometime during rush hour this morning.

"I'm an excellent driver." (Photo of My Little Pony Glory,  by PoniesofDooom on etsy. Glory has been sold.)

“I’m an excellent driver.” (Photo of My Little Pony Glory, by PoniesofDooom on etsy. Glory has been sold.)

The timeline is fuzzy because I wasn’t paying attention, which is also usually the case when something life-altering happens to me. Perhaps it was in the hours before that notion scrolled across my screen, perhaps in the hours after. There I was—minding my own business again—when what was probably a rhetorical question crossed my screen:

“What is up with this whole Brony thing?”

This time I could not restrain my cluelessness, which I shared aloud. I was invited to Google the term, whereupon I was reminded that there are a lot of people on the Internet with entirely too much time on their hands. Twenty minutes or more into my “research,” I realized I was becoming one of those people.

I went back to minding my own business. And then it happened. Or maybe it happened before then. The timeline is still fuzzy, and magical stuff is going down. Who’s to say these events aren’t shifting in the time-space continuum even as I type this?

Anyway, there I was, looking for Latino-blend corn and beans on what I thought was a routine trip to the grocery store.  I turned my shopping cart into the frozen foods aisle and there she was, running through the pole beans, a vision of wonder, coming from the opposite end, adorned in her lavender coat, with her lavender and purple-streaked hair, followed by a little girl about six years old carrying a giant, stuffed, orange My Little Pony.

Bronies? Unicorns in disguise?  What is going on here? What. Is. Going. On?!?!?!

I wish I could tell you what’s going on, but the truth of it is, some things are better left a mystery. I decided it was probably best to go back to minding my own business, which eventually meant pretending not to read the headlines on the tabloids in the check-out line, and pretending not to wonder if Jennifer Aniston’s twins might turn out to be unicorns.

This part of the timeline is clear because it happened most recently, which is usually the case with timelines: I managed to put all this behind me until this morning’s commute.

There  I was—minding my own business—driving along at 66 miles per hour,  when I came upon a BMW in the left lane, driving at the posted speed limit. And then, as if being stirred to action by a sprinkling of magical fairy dust, the turn signal went on and the driver moved to the slower lane to let those of us in the left lane pass.

I wanted to look. I wanted the driver to be lavender-haired lady, this time no disguise. Just cruising along in all her horned, purple-maned unicorn glory.

But I didn’t. I went back to minding my own business. Because some things are better left a mystery.

Just between you and me, though, all signs point to unicorns among us. Grocery-shopping, BMW-driving, purple-haired unicorns.

Let us turn our thoughts today…

I had a dream recently. Nowhere near, of course,  the eloquent and visionary Dream many of us celebrate and cherish, memorialize and continue to long and to strive for on this day in the United States.

Just a regular dream.

In it I was chatting with an old friend. I wish I could remember what we were talking about. I know it was light and jovial and I was enjoying the conversation.

Something struck a chord, though, with some part of my heart that I keep hidden. I wish I could remember. What I do remember is outwardly joking, “Well, I’m not sure my editor would let me write that story.”

Then I heard a voice, not my father’s voice, but in a tone that my father had: loving and quiet but firm. A tone that said he meant for the message he was conveying to be taken with extreme seriousness:

“I AM the editor. Write it.”

It was the tone as much as the message that woke me up. Unfortunately, I mean that literally.

It’s been over a month and the “it” continues to elude me. I can’t imagine that among the many stories and thoughts that “crowd my mind” and my heart there would be any “that really matter,” any that anyone needs to hear, that will make the world or even one person’s day any better.

Instead of chasing “it” with a net, I’ve decided to wait mindfully — and with all the cliché of that butterfly philosophy — to see if it lands on me.

While I wait,  I’ve been clearing things out, sharing old stories and thoughts and enjoying and occasionally sharing others’ stories and thoughts.

If you’re reading this from a phone or other media device, you may not be able to see the “Now Playing” music player over in the right frame.

Just about daily, a song from deep in the archives of my music collection comes to mind, often because of some snippet of conversation or sometimes just because of what’s going on around me. They’re not necessarily “earworms,” those songs someone plants in your head that won’t go away. Please note the restraint I am exercising in not citing examples here. You’re welcome.

If a song qualifies more as a soundtrack to part of my day than an earworm, and if I own it in my collection, I add it to the playlist. (You can click and slide the “play” bar to the right to get to the next song.) I’ve begun to think of it as a sort of Muzak while I wait.

Maybe the “it” will never land on me. Sometimes a dream is just a dream.

But other times dreams and the words used to convey them make the world a better place. Thank you, Dr. King, for your dream and your words.

This is my song for today.


 James Taylor’s “Shed a Little Light” is from his 1991 album, New Moon Shine. This video excerpt is from one of the DVDs I would grab if I had to rush out of my burning house. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. 

At least one of you will get the Jackson Browne lyrical reference in this post, which is why I like you and your way with words.


On heat indexes, windchill factors, and Starbucks: the relativity of weather

Hippie Cahier:

Originally posted during a heat wave in 2012. Change hot to cold, lather and rinse. This is a repeat. Stay warm, Chicago (and everywhere else).

Originally posted on Hippie Cahier:

You may have heard a little about this. Many of you are experiencing it along with me: it’s hot.

In fact, yes indeed, it’s hot enough for me. Thank you very much for yourthoughtful inquiry.

Not only is it hot, we here in the mid-Atlantic experienced an out-of-the blue storm a little over a week ago that brought little rain but more wind than . . . something.

Curiously, the weather folks have not compared those winds to anything. Maybe it’s because this was an anonymous storm, not a celebrity storm, the kind that will get a name this year.

Maybe if this storm had a name, the weather folks would have had time to pull their hair into ponytails, fashionably looped through the back of a baseball cap, and headed out to reportfrom the street corner or the front of the panicked Home Depot while the interns back at…

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Ten manly things every guy should know how to do:

Hippie Cahier:

Since I read this piece at Brown Road Chronicles, I have been mentally scoring the men in my life. There was one perfect score and one 80 %, possibly a 90 %, but only if crying at the ending of Gran Torino counts. I will be using it for a screening tool going forward.

Originally posted on The Brown Road Chronicles:

Sure, this sort of list has been hashed out a million times on internet sites, in Men’s magazines and over drinks at a bar. But here’s my take on it (in no particular order):

1. Wash your own laundry:

Wash it, dry it, fold it, maybe even hang some of it up to dry so it doesn’t shrink. You don’t really need to sort it all out, that’s one of those female “myths” that’s been perpetuated for eternity. Well, except for anything red… sort that shit out or you’ll have a real problem with pink underwear. While you’re at it, learn to operate an iron. Then go wash a bunch of dishes. You might get laid.

2. Tie a tie:

I know, I know… I can already hear you saying “I don’t ever wear a tie, why should I need to know how to tie one?” Well, because you should…

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