Sunday, October 4, 2015

I have this problem when I pray...

And it is that I start totally worrying and fretting over the thing I am praying about, as I am praying about it.

It makes me a nervous wreck.

It doesn't make for a very good prayer life.

And I should really know better.


I am a 52-year-old Catholic lady. I have been praying for a long, long time. But, it suddenly dawned on me, a couple of months ago, that over the past 10 years, I have turned my prayer life into a source of constant stress.

I guess it kind of all started when something bad -- very, very bad -- happened to my family. I will not get  into all that here, but the stress associated with that event started to affect my prayer life. I didn't really notice it, but as I look back, I can see where it started. And over the past few years, my parents both passed away after long struggles with illness. My dad died of cancer and my mom died of complications associated with congestive heart failure and subsequent heart surgery. None of it was pretty. But, through everything I prayed and -- somehow -- prayer stopped being a source of peace for me and became, instead, a source of stress. I didn't really see all of this clearly, until rather recently.

This is now what I do when I pray: I sit quietly, I place myself in the presence of God, I thank Him for the many blessings I have received, and I begin to speak to Him about my concerns and intentions. And then my mind begins to wander down all the possible and terrible paths the situations I am concerned with might take. And I wonder if God will stop these situations from taking on these awful forms. I begin to get all upset with all the suffering people in the world and I wonder if God will send something good my way when He obviously didn't send something good the way of the Doctors Without Borders hospital. And then I start envisioning the carnage at the Doctors Without Borders hospital. And then I start thinking about the insanity of so many "Christians" these days, who are so mean. And then I get rather annoyed with God. And then I realize that it's really not God's fault, because God gives us our freedom, including the freedom to do horrible things to each other. And then I wonder why I am even praying, at all. And I become convinced that the worst possible thing is going to happen to the person I had been meaning to pray for at the beginning of my prayer. And then I'm like, "Stop this nonsense, Marla!" And I get up and fold laundry.

Now, before all you theologians start telling me all the faults in my reasoning here, I will just say one thing to you. STOP. Do not say anything to me. Because I am freaking good at theology, even though you might not know it from some of the things I write about. I know how to logically argue everything about God and free will and sin and suffering in the world. I know about the Economy Of Salvation. I sent my kids to three of the most conservative Catholic colleges IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. I am a damn good armchair theologian, damnit. I know how DESTROY the reasoning I used in the above paragraph. Somehow, though, logic is not enough. I have to look at God and myself and just sigh. And maybe that's okay. Everything is not clear-cut and clean. Even in the Christian life, there is a lot of murk and crap to wade through. If there wasn't murk and crap to wade through, there wouldn't have to be any "faith," would there? Sometimes shitty things happen. And sometimes they don't resolve well and you really don't know the why of it all.

So, this is what I have decided to do. This coming liturgical year is the year of mercy, as declared by Pope Francis. And I think I am just going to immerse myself and all the people and situations I care about into God's mercy and try to be merciful. Instead of sitting and explaining to God all of my problems and concerns -- thus causing my imagination to travel to the worst of the worst places -- I will just try to release things into His mercy.

Because when it comes down to it, I do believe in God. I do believe we are fallen.


Because -- to me -- it is the best explanation of why we all do the shit we do to each other and to our world. The shit we do is not really explainable on a purely evolutionary level. Now, I am not a Creationist. I have a biology degree and I respect the theory of evolution and believe it makes a lot of sense. But, it truly does not explain the shit we do. And The Fall does. Very well. And if The Fall is real, it affects me. It affects all of us. And this is why Jesus said, "Do not judge, lest you be judged." He was basically telling us that none of us has anything to brag about. We are all capable of enormous shit. Including me. And so the answer is mercy. At least for me.

And that is how I am going to attempt to rectify my prayer life.

Lord, have mercy on me, the sinner. Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hiking In Runyon Canyon -- A Comedic Blog Post

There is this place in LA where the "it" people, the wanna be "it" people, a lot of in-shape college people, and some "never get old never say die" middle-aged people go to hike. It is called Runyon Canyon.

I can't remember exactly where I heard of Runyon Canyon. Probably somewhere on social media.

But, anyway...

One weekend, this past Spring, my daughter Bridget went on a retreat with the young adults of St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica. That is a whole story unto itself, which I shall not tell right now. But, as you may know, because of health issues, Bridget doesn't drive. So, I drove her up to the retreat, which was at a beautiful retreat center in Malibu. And since I didn't want to make two round-trip drives to LA in 48 hours, I decided to just get a hotel room and amuse myself in this wonderful area for a couple of days. And one of the ways I decided to amuse myself was to go hiking in Runyon Canyon.

And it's a very good thing I can laugh at myself.

I am 52 years old. I recently lost 55 pounds, which means I can fit into a cute exercise outfit. That doesn't mean, though, that I am in actual "shape." Because I am not. I don't look too bad, for a 52-year-old, but my workouts consist mostly of walking up and down my stairs with baskets of laundry and strolling around the block with my two greyhounds. Greyhounds, though they may run VERY fast, walk VERY slow. No shit. On the plus side, I am rather tan, due to my Italian heritage. My tan, combined with my weight loss and my cute exercise outfit, gave me the courage to make my way to the hiking trails of Runyon Canyon. I figured that I could sort of blend in with the "it" people and the "in-shape" people, which I did. Other things which gave me the courage to go to Runyon Canyon were that I am, basically and in many ways, not very self-conscious, difficult to embarrass, and rather adventurous. And a little bit divorced from reality. Which is why I really love LA. There are MANY people there who are just like me.

So, early one Saturday morning, this past Spring... (Well, it wasn't that early. Because now that I am 52, I don't do early.)

So, late one Saturday morning, this past Spring, I activated Google Maps on my iPhone and made my way from Santa Monica to Runyon Canyon. And I discovered that Runyon Canyon is actually right smack-dab in the middle of a rather "edgy" LA neighborhood. The people inhabiting this neighborhood are all about 20 years younger than I and worth about 20 million dollars more. (Okay. I am exaggerating. A little.) And the neighborhood is composed of steep hills with practically no parking anywhere to be found. There really isn't a Runyon Canyon hiking trails parking lot. At least as far as I could find. And if there was, I'm sure it was all full. So, I drove around and around and around and finally found a parking spot MANY blocks from the entrance to the hiking trails. And did I mention? All of the streets leading to Runyon Canyon are on steep hills. And you don't walk DOWN to get to the hiking trails. You walk UP. UP and UP and UP. So, I was kind of panic-stricken, for two reasons. The first reason was that I was afraid I would never find my car again, because I was totally disoriented. I did have Google Maps on my iPhone, but this weekend was the first time I had used it without Bridget's help and I wasn't sure what I was doing. I had visions of having to call the LAPD for help finding my car. And I was afraid the LAPD would send hot cops to help me and I would be embarrassed in front of them. I figured that they -- being hot LAPD cops -- would be sophisticated enough to see through my facade of tan skin and cute-workout clothes to the poser that I really was. Secondly, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to walk up all the hills to get to the actual hiking trails without collapsing from exhaustion, let alone be able to actually hike once I got there. I almost got back in the car to go back to Santa Monica to eat fancy desserts.

But, I said to myself, "NO. You will do this thing, damnit. And you will use your Google maps and not have to call the hot LAPD cops." And I proceeded to walk up ALL THE HILLS to get to the hiking trails.

And I was successful.

Frankly, all the people on the trails were very nice. They smiled and said good morning and were generally cordial. I find that all the LA people are pretty nice to me. LA people have to be nice to every middle-aged person they see who is halfway decently dressed and has a good hair colorist, because that person might -- JUST MIGHT -- be an indie producer who could fund their next project. And do I use that fact to my advantage? Yes. Yes, I do. And I have funded certain indie projects, too. So, I don't feel horrible about it.

I greatly enjoyed my hike. It was a lot of fun. There were many cool dogs, who were happy to see me. I heard interesting people talk about their interesting bosses. There were some darling young couples on first dates. The view was amazing. All in all, it was quite a pleasant experience.


I got to the downhill railroad-tie staircase with the slippery gravel soil all around it.

You see? I have a bad knee. A REALLY bad knee. A knee that is not at all reliably stable on slippery downhill surfaces.

I took a couple of tentative steps down the railroad-tie staircase and started to slide, my bad knee giving me absolutely no help.

Thankfully, there were large rocks positioned around the railroad tie staircase, so I was able to artfully slide my ass onto one of them, acting like I did the whole thing on purpose in order to sit for a few minutes and enjoy the view.

So, I sat. And sat some more. Rather unsure of how I was going to get the hell down.

A few hot guys of varying ages asked if I was okay and if I needed any help. I said, "No. I'm fine." I don't really know why I said that. I really should have availed myself of the hot guy help. LA guys -- and gals -- really are nice people, you know? A lot of them come from the mid-west in order to become "industry" people, and they bring a lot of those mid-west values and manners with them. I really do love the "industry" people. I have heard that they can be rather cut-throat. They are never cut-throat to me, though, because I am not -- in any way, shape, or form -- their competition. That is very clear to them. So, they are just always really nice to me. And -- in return -- I love them and donate to their very cool Kickstarter projects.

Eventually, I did make my way down the staircase. I descended by scooting my butt from one rock to the next rock, all the time pretending that I was just stopping to enjoy the magnificent view. And once I was safely at the bottom of that evil staircase, I did an inward victory dance and proceeded hiking the rest of the trail. Which -- thanks be to God -- was all downhill from there. I was quite pleased with myself. In fact, I was so pleased with myself that I no longer feared having to call the LAPD to assist me in locating my car. I brazenly whipped out my iPhone and turned on my Google Maps and found it.


And then I drove back to Santa Monica and got myself a nice lunch. ;-)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Pope And Kim Davis -- A Jesuit "Fast One"???

I have often been accused of being "Jesuitical" in my way of thinking. I say "accused" because those who observed this about me were not being complimentary. Not at all. I used to be rather ashamed of this fact about myself, as I do think it is an accurate observation. As I have entered midlife, though, I have chosen to embrace it.

So, here we go.

I was thinking about the Pope's meeting with Kim Davis. This has some people wringing their hands and others jumping for joy. But -- let us remember -- the Pope is a Jesuit. And I'm wondering if the Pope pulled a Jesuit "fast one."

I am probably going to get a phone call from the Vatican because of this blog post, telling me that I am ALL WRONG. That's okay. It would be sort of cool to get a phone call from the Vatican. And I still think that what I have to say might be worth considering, even if it's not a Slick Jesuit Papal Maneuver.

I was reading the NPR article on the Pope's visit with Kim. (I just love NPR, don't you? They are always so calm and professional. I also love Ezra Klein on Vox. He is witty and hilarious and sort of a sexy nerd. But, I digress.) In this article, I noticed that the Pope used the term "conscientious objection" when discussing his visit with Kim. This is very interesting to me. VERY interesting.

I grew up during the time of the Vietnam War, and there were many conscientious objectors. My parents and their group of friends were rather divided on the validity of being a conscientious objector. Most of them thought that these individuals were, basically, unpatriotic cowards. Some of them, though, admired the values and courage of the "peaceniks."  I once dated a guy -- for a little while -- who had been a conscientious objector. I decided that it was probably a good thing he had been thus, because he basically couldn't seem to stay awake. EVER. The dude would have been a very poor soldier. I would not have wanted to go into battle with this dude. He did have a cool car, though. And he helped me on a limnology project that I basically would have failed without his assistance. After said project, I never saw him again. I suppose traipsing around all those bodies of fresh water convinced him that I was MUCH too energetic for him. (OMG. I am digressing SO much today!)

Let's think, though, about conscientious objectors. In Vietnam, anyway, they were excused from the draft. I guess some of them did non-combat jobs. But, NONE of them performed the duties to which they objected. Why? Because they were excused/dismissed from the job which entailed those duties, meaning they were excused/dismissed from the job of being a soldier.

And this is the point. A conscientious objector was not allowed to become a soldier and then decide -- according to his conscience -- which of his duties he was going to perform and which of his duties he was not going to perform. Either he was in. Or he was out. And if he wanted to conscientiously object, he was OUT.

This is relevant to the case of Kim Davis. If she wants to hold the job that she has been holding, she needs to do that job. ALL of that job. As in the case of the soldier, she does not get to decide which duties she approves of and which she is going to abstain from. That kind of thinking brings chaos and anarchy. We would soon be a country resembling Gotham, if everybody got to do that. (Have you been watching the new season of "Gotham"? It is INCREDIBLE. They totally gave it a face lift from last year's season. And -- yes -- I have digressed again.) So, if the law has changed and Kim conscientiously objects to it, that is her human right. As the Pope stated. But, I bet the Pope is clever enough to realize that a conscientious objector needs to be excused -- or excuse himself/herself -- from the job to which he/she objects. Just as the soldier does not get to define his role, neither does Miss Kim. Perhaps this is the Pope's indirect and understated -- but, very Jesuitically clear -- message. And even if it's not his message, it's mine. ;-)

Now, I do think Miss Davis is a decent lady. She has basically been emotionally hijacked by and made a pawn of religious right-wingers. So, I kind of hope that the county for which she has worked will find her a new position that is both amenable to her conscience and provides for her needs. Do I think it's necessary for the county to do this? No, I don't. But, I think it would be decent. She probably won't need another job, though, because she's probably going to make a lot of money off the right-wingers. You know? With public appearances and podcasts and a YouTube channel and a book. There will probably even be a movie made about her by a certain university with which I am acquainted. Maybe I'm being cynical. I don't know.

Pax. :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Things That Make Me Go "Hmmm..."

You may have read the comment made by "Ricardo" on my last blog post. When I read it, I pretty much felt like Hester Prynn. Into my mind came all the images of women -- misunderstood, abused, ostracized, shunned, shut down -- because they were/are sinners. I especially felt that way because I am a Catholic and Ricardo is a Catholic deacon. Thankfully, not at my parish. Although, he does live a few doors down from me. And I admit that every time I walk down the street since reading that comment, I hyperventilate and feel rather faint (which I do twice a day, when I walk my dogs).

Now, as a Catholic, I do not deny that I am a sinner. I know that I am. I am also grateful that I was not brought up in a Catholic environment inhabited by people like Ricardo. I was brought up in an environment inhabited by people like Pope Francis.

I read today some words that Francis spoke in Cuba, addressing priests and bishops (members of the clergy who hear Confessions). Deacons do not hear Confessions, thanks be to God. And these words reminded me why I have faith in Jesus. Because Jesus EMBRACES the sinner. He has MERCY and COMPASSION on the sinner. He does not smack the sinner to the ground as she makes herself vulnerable and tries to get up from a fall. Rather, He gives her His hand.

I would like now to share these words of our wonderful Pope Francis with you, so that you may understand why I am still Catholic, in spite of what people like Ricardo might say to me:

"....there is a privileged place for the priest where this last one, this least one, this smallest one is found -- and it is the confessional. And there, when this man or this woman shows you his misery -- careful because it's the same misery that you have and from which God saved you, eh? from getting to that point. When he or she shows you his misery, please, don't scold him. Don't scold him, don't punish him. If you don't have sin, throw the first stone. But only under that condition. If not, think of your sins and think that you could be that person and think that you could potentially fall even lower, and think that you in this moment have in your hands a treasure, which is the mercy of the Father. Please, priests, don't get tired of forgiving, like Jesus did. Don't hide in fears or in rigidities. Just like this nun (a sister from the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity who had spoken before the Pope) and all of those who are in the same ministry as she is, they don't get furious when they find a sick person who is dirty, but instead serve him, clean him, take care of him. Just like this, you, when a penitent comes, don't react badly, don't get neurotic, don't cast him out of the confessional, don't scold him. Jesus embraced them. Jesus loved them. Tomorrow, we celebrate St. Matthew. He was a thief and beyond that, betrayed his people. And the Gospel says that at night, Jesus went to dine with him and others like him. St. Ambrose has a phrase that moves me a lot: 'where there is mercy, the Spirit of Jesus is there; where there is rigidity, merely his ministers are there.'

"Brother priest, brother bishop, do not be afraid of mercy, allow it to flow out of your hands and through your embrace of forgiveness. Because this person or that person who is there are the least ones, and therefore it is Jesus. ....Poverty and mercy....that is where Jesus is."

And isn't that how we come to conversion -- a turning away from the bad and toward the good? Isn't it through being shown love? Isn't it through being shown mercy? Not from having your lack of logic pounced upon. Not from being compared to "pagans" who practiced child sacrifice. But from being embraced by love, by compassion -- by Christ. And he isn't walking down the streets of our cities right now -- but, we are. And we who call ourselves Christians have a very serious obligation not to push people away in His name.

There are people who believe in God and people who don't. There are Jews and Hindus and Muslims and Pagans and Buddhists. Among all of these, there are people of goodwill. All deserve to have their faith -- or lack, thereof -- respected. All deserve love and mercy and compassion. Because we are all kind of a mess, when you think about it. Nobody -- really -- is in a position to cast that first stone. I mean, look at Jesus. Christians believe He is God and -- thus -- perfect. And even He does not cast stones. Rather, He holds us close and wipes our tears.


P.S. -- Please pray for me to forgive Ricardo. I admit that it isn't easy. I want to be able to walk by his house and offer him a kind hello, instead of fainting in his driveway. ;-)

Friday, September 18, 2015

What The Republicans Are Doing Is Downright Dangerous

I am talking about their effort to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

I am also talking about all these misrepresentative videos the "pro-lifers" have been putting out.

This is all wrong-headed and dangerous.

And I'll tell you why.

This whole thing about selling baby parts for profit and the controversy over fetal experimentation is nothing new. And I'm not saying we shouldn't be disturbed by at least some of what we heard in those videos.

But, there is a danger. A very real danger.

Let me tell you a story:

Years ago, when conservatives were talking about the selling of baby parts and fetal experimentation, I had an acquaintance who was pregnant.  She started to miscarry. She bled pretty badly. But -- she wouldn't go into the hospital. Why? BECAUSE SHE WAS AFRAID THEY WOULD EXPERIMENT ON THE BABY AFTER SHE MISCARRIED. That's right. And this was an intelligent woman. She was very conservative, though, and was wont to listen to all the conservative propaganda about this issue. And by the time she finally did go into the hospital, she came very close to HAVING TO HAVE A HYSTERECTOMY, because the medical personnel feared that they wouldn't be able to get the bleeding under control in time to save her. She actually endangered her own life and her reproductive health because she was misled by all of this "pro-life" propaganda.

And this makes me angry. So. Very. Angry. It is wrong to use misleading scare tactics to win people over to your side -- even if you passionately believe your side is in the right.

Hear that Republicans??? You are putting people's lives in danger -- including the lives of the unborn, because women might be afraid to seek care when they need it. I mean, what if my acquaintance's baby could have been saved if she had sought help in a more timely way? It's probably unlikely anything could have been done, but we'll never know, will we? Why? Because of people like you, Republicans. This lady did go on to have more children -- children she was almost not able to have because of conservative fear-mongering. So, that would have been on you, conservative fear-mongers.

(If you are getting the idea that I am totally pissed, you would be right. My apologies.)

And let me tell you one other story. This is a personal story that I have never told anybody, because I was ashamed. Now, right up front, this is not my abortion story. This is my almost, could-have-been abortion story. And I hope you will all still speak to me afterwards.

Years ago, when I was still in college, I was in a very bad place in my life. I had broken up with my fiance -- and it was awful. I was not getting along with my parents, AT ALL. I felt all alone. And I messed around with a guy one night, because I was lonely and heartbroken and not feeling very self-protective. We didn't have sex, but we came pretty close. And then my period was late. And I panicked. I prayed and prayed that I wasn't pregnant, because I didn't feel like there was anyone I could go to. I wouldn't have gone to my parents, because things were horrid between us. And there was no way that I wanted this guy to end up being the father of my child. And his family was pretty dysfunctional, as well. All my close friends were Christian. None of them would have supported me in getting an abortion. And I don't blame them. I certainly didn't believe in abortion. But, when I look at it honestly, I probably either would have had an abortion (and felt like absolute crap about it) or committed suicide. And I'm not exaggerating about that. Suicide would have been a very real danger to me, at that point. Now -- thankfully -- I wasn't pregnant. But, as I have watched the "abortion wars" over the years, I have often thought about myself in this situation. And I guess I am glad Planned Parenthood would have been there. Yes -- the baby would have been lost, but I wouldn't have been. And I think there is value in that. There is potential hope in that. For you Christians reading this, I'd say, "My baby would have been in God's hands. And I would have had the chance to heal -- and repent." For you non-Christians reading this, the repentance part might sound silly, and I respect that. But, it wouldn't have been silly to me. 

There are many abortion providers. There will always be abortion providers. But, at least Planned Parenthood is a non-profit. I bet a lot of the providers aren't. Abortion services are also a small part of their total activities. And -- if you look at their website -- the information is quite accurate. If you really don't want to get pregnant or a sexually transmitted disease, all you have to do is look at the information and follow it. I actually had a young woman who worked for a pro-life pregnancy center tell me that she used to refer to the Planned Parenthood website, because the information was very complete and very accurate.

Of course, I'm sure that there are Planned Parenthood affiliates that operate in a less than ideal manner. But, let me tell you one more story:

I heard a woman from Texas speak once. She had run an abortion clinic. I think she actually owned it. And I don't believe it was affiliated with Planned Parenthood. She said that they used to purposely give young women the least effective birth control pill because they knew a lot of them would get pregnant and come back for abortions, which her particular clinic actually profited from. At least, with Planned Parenthood, they list -- quite accurately -- the effectiveness rates of the various methods of birth control, so you know what you're getting.

Now, at this point, I don't know if I have any friends left. But, that's okay. I have never lived my life for the purpose of seeking people's approval. I hope, though, that conservative people will at least look at these issues in a way that is more even-handed and less accusatory. It breaks my heart to see what much of the "pro-life" movement has become.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

It's Really Nobody's Business How Many Kids You Have

A lot of mamas of big families will be nodding their heads "yes" to this. They do get a lot of comments (often negative) about having many kids. But -- I'm telling ya -- it goes both ways.

I will tell you of my experiences.

When I was pregnant with my third baby -- my son, Scott -- many people, often strangers in the grocery store, would approach me and my two little girls and say things (while pointing at my belly), such as:  "Was that an accident?" or "How are you going to manage THREE little kids?" or "I could NEVER have more than two." or "You got pregnant again because you wanted to try for a boy, right?" or "You got pregnant again because your HUSBAND wanted to try for a boy, right?" And the answer to ALL of these questions was a polite, but firm, "No. I got pregnant again because I wanted another baby." Random strangers would also ask me how in the world we would afford THREE children, in this day and age. I mean, how do you answer that in the middle of the aisle at Toys 'R' Us???

Admittedly, I was pretty tired when I had three kids under the age of four. But, I wouldn't have sent any of them back. ;-)

But -- before you get on your "high horse" about the "contraceptive mentality" and "the culture of death," dear Catholic people, I will tell you the other side of the story.

Scott did end up being my last baby. And I have since had some interesting experiences with Catholic people concerning the fact that I have "only" (gasp) THREE children.

Here are a couple of the most notable:

A priest once called me out FROM THE ALTAR, DURING MASS. He said, "You're Catholic. Why do you ONLY have THREE children?!?!"

And just a couple of weeks ago, I was at a party at a friend's house. The crowd was composed -- mostly -- of very "traditional" Catholics. I was the stealth progressive. Two of my kids were with me -- my 26-year-old oldest daughter and my 22-year-old son. I was speaking with a nice lady and she asked me if my children were at the party. I pointed out my daughter and my son. And she said, "Oh, I met them. They are very nice." That made me quite happy. And then she looked at me expectantly and said, "Surely, God has granted you more blessings?" by which she meant "more children." Because I have a very Italian woman nature, I kind of saw red. But -- because it is a northern (versus southern) Italian woman nature, I managed not to "lose it." I simply replied, "I have one other daughter, but she is chaperoning Steubenville San Diego this weekend." This seemed to satisfy the nice lady.

So, you see, there is really much judgement flying around -- from all directions -- about people's family sizes. And this is really NONE OF ANYBODY'S DAMN BUSINESS, except the parents'. There are advantages -- and disadvantages -- to all family sizes. And as far as being blessed goes, your family size does NOT determine the degree of blessing you have received from God. One child is a blessing. Two children are a blessing. Ten children are a blessing. And it is up to the COUPLE to make decisions -- hopefully, wise decisions -- about their family size. Also -- some people do not have any children. Some choose this state; others do not. If you want children, and have been unable to have them, it is heartbreaking -- but, you are still BLESSED. You are still LOVED by God. If you choose not to have children -- and this is agreed to by both people who make up the couple, for reasons that only they know -- you are still BLESSED. You are still LOVED by God. My parents had some childless couples as friends when I was growing up -- some by choice, some not. But, I always loved it when they came over. Childless couples often bring this sort of special attention and energy with them to the children of the families they know. I had wonderful times visiting with and playing with the childless ladies -- both the ladies who were childless by choice and those who were not. I gained a lot from the attention of these women, which was fresh and not colored by the exhaustion of caring for their own children. (No offense, exhausted mothers. I have been you. No guilt is necessary.)

Anyway, let's watch our tongues -- and our attitudes -- shall we? There are all types of families. They can all be beautiful and full of love. And people's decisions about how many children to have can be very complex. And these decisions are really nobody's business, but their own.

Pax. <3

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Having An Actor For A Dad...

...just might be the most amazingly cool thing EVER. I guess you could also say this about having a director/producer/writer for a dad.


Well... Yesterday, I was in Los Angeles for an event. Being that I arrived rather early -- as I am wont to do -- I hung out for a while in this wondrous place called Griffith Park. It was reminiscent of Disneyland in its magicalness. I would like to go back there very soon.

I sat at a picnic table eating my lunch in a spot that was relatively close to a small playground. There was a lovely climbing structure on the playground, which was being occupied by a group of 5 or 6 small children. Also present were a few mommies and a daddy. The daddy appeared to be in his early 30's, and he was very handsome and actor-like. And he engaged the children in the most wonderful game. I have never seen any other daddy do what this particular daddy did, and I thought, "I just love this land of creative people."

What was this game?

The daddy -- in a MOST enthusiastic and energetic way -- told all of the children that they would be playing a game which, to sum it up, was rather like a Game Of Thrones episode, if that show could possibly be happy and about good guys. He told the children -- in a voice that projected all the way across the park, like any good actor would -- what the "tag line" would be, which "characters" each of them (and he) would be playing, and how the drama would unfold. The children laughed and screeched delightedly as they were given their "stage directions." The "play" then commenced, with all the actors -- including the daddy -- participating in a whole-hearted, high-spirited fashion. "So this," I thought to myself, "is how the phenomenon of "being a star" is handed down, generation-unto-generation." I have raised three kids. I have been to LOTS of parks and birthday parties and play dates. And NEVER have I seen anything quite like this. It was astounding. And totally delightful.

I love LA. It is full of incredible people. Sure -- it has its problems -- but, there is no place quite like it in all the world. Every time I go there, I find something new at which to marvel. (Someday, I am going to go to NYC, and I'm sure that will be incredible, too.) ;-)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

And This Is Exactly Why Caitlyn Jenner Won The Arthur Ashe Courage Award

Today I read a post by a popular Catholic blogger. It began: "Bruce Jenner won the ESPN courage award last night." This blogger's refusal to refer to Ms. Jenner as Caitlyn Jenner tells you a lot. And everything else he wrote in his article tells you EXACTLY WHY Caitlyn Jenner won The Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The whole piece was dripping with cruel disrespect and downright ignorance. In fact, in perusing this man's blog, I must say that a lot of his posts drip with cruel disrespect and downright ignorance.

But, anyway, back to the issue of Ms. Jenner.

The Catholic blogger goes on accuse Ms. Jenner of "mutiliating" her "genitals" and "playing dress up." The blogger says, "Jenner cut himself up and started wearing girls' clothes because he wanted to. It makes him feel good." EXCUSE ME?!?! First of all, from everything I have read, Ms. Jenner has not had any surgery on her genitals. Ms. Jenner also identifies as a woman, so she cannot be accused of "playing dress up." She is trying -- for all intents and purposes -- to authentically live her gender identity. And to have to live one's gender identity in the face of such ignorant insults certainly qualifies as courage, in my book. Catholics say that they "don't hate" LGBT people. Well... I'm sorry. But, this is hate, pure and simple. Ignorant hate.

The Catholic blogger says that Caitlyn Jenner does what she does "merely because it satisfies an urge." And then he goes on to say, "He needs counseling. Extensive, prolonged counseling. And Jesus."

Guess what? Ms. Jenner has had that type of counseling. It has been a struggle for her. She has done the best she can. She is doing the best she can. And standing tall in the face of the disrespect that this blogger -- and others like him -- throw at her is courage. Absolute courage.

And as far as Jesus goes? I read an article a while back written by the pastor of a Christian church that Bruce Jenner and his family attended many years ago. The pastor said that Bruce was there each and every Sunday -- even when the rest of his family couldn't make it. This pastor said that Bruce listened intently to the Bible readings and the sermons, sang with enthusiasm and devotion, and asked many intelligent and probing questions about our Lord in his attempt to know and love Him. In my opinion, it sounds like Bruce (now Caitlyn) has a lot more Jesus than this Catholic blogger. And a lot more courage.

It is easy to hurl insults and be applauded. It is NOT courage. That's what this Catholic blogger does.

Caityln is applauded, too. And -- yes -- she will make money from her story. But, that doesn't take away from its authenticity. Also -- as far as I can tell -- she has never hurled an insult at anybody. She has never shown any hatred. She seeks to spread understanding -- not just about herself, but about transsexual people, in general. And these trans people are hated by many. They need our love and support. So, Ms. Jenner, I will happily buy your book. Because you truly do have courage, especially when you are standing -- without flinching -- before those who claim to speak for God and who would condemn you for being who you are.

Catholics -- especially those who call themselves "traditional" and "orthodox" and would put themselves in leadership roles -- need to EDUCATE THEMSELVES about LGTBQ issues. They need to read modern thought with at least somewhat of an open mind. I am not saying they need to agree, but they need to stop sounding like cruel, ignorant fools.  Sorry if that "fools" part sounds harsh, but they do come across as such. They really do.

My oldest daughter said to me once, "Maybe walking the 'straight and narrow' really means standing up for these people," meaning the LGBT people. Now -- to be clear -- she wasn't saying that we should reject Church teaching. But -- what she was saying -- is that when unfair, uneducated, cruel accusations are hurled at them, we need to stand up for them. We need to show compassion. We need to show mercy. We need to appreciate their intelligence and gifts and talents and actually integrate them into our society (and even into our personal lives). We need to LISTEN to them, and not just dismiss what they are saying about themselves. Because it is more difficult and requires much more wisdom and grace to do these things than to hurl Church teaching at them in a way that is unproductive, at best, and full of hate, at worst.

Frankly, we don't know all there is to know about human sexuality. And it's time for us Catholics to stop thinking that we do. Because that kind of pride is causing a lot of harm -- to individuals, to society, and to the Church.

Finally, I want to just remind everyone that Arthur Ashe died of AIDS, which is a disease -- at least when I was younger -- that caused people who had it to be treated with great suspicion and much unjust discrimination, even hatred. That is what Caitlyn Jenner -- and many LGBT people -- are being treated with now -- great suspicion, unjust discrimination, and even hatred. So -- maybe, just maybe -- Caitlyn is a VERY appropriate recipient of that award.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Governor Jindal Called Me A "Left-Wing Ideologue"

Well... Not to my face.

But, he called those who think business people should not be able to discriminate against gay people in providing services for same-sex weddings "left-wing ideologues."

So, I guess I must be included.

Which is really funny to me.

Because in my U.S. Government class in high school we had to take this little test which measured how liberal or conservative we were. The results? This kinda hot Mormon boy and I got a tie score as the most conservative people in the school. He was interested in me for about five minutes. Until he found out how Catholic I was. The teacher said, "Marla, you should be on your knees before Ronald Reagan." (Mind you. This was no insult. That particular teacher was a staunch Republican.)

And -- yes -- I voted for Reagan. And Bush. And Bush. And McCain. And Romney. (Although, that one was rather painful.)

I also homeschooled my kids and paid their tuition at pretty much the most conservative Catholic colleges IN THE WORLD. Not in the state, mind you. Or even the country. But, THE WORLD.

So, to have myself lumped in with the "left-wing ideologues" was quite hilarious. And also quite illustrative of today's conservative thinking.

Which is why, I suppose, I can't really call myself a conservative, anymore. I jumped off that train as it derailed and I found my feet firmly planted in the land of Obamacare.

And after much research and thinking and soul-searching, I have also found my feet firmly planted in the land of marriage equality. If a marriage is legal, then it should stand on equal legal ground with all other legal marriages, and should be respected, as such.

And what does this mean to me, as far as religious freedom goes?

It means that the Catholic Church (and any other religious organization) should never, ever be forced to preside at weddings which do not conform to their theology. Even the Human Rights Campaign asserts that they should never have to do this, as it would be a very clear violation of the Constitution.

But, as far as taking photographs and serving food and baking cakes and preparing pizza? To assert that to do this is a violation of your religious freedom is tenuous, at best. And more like ridiculous. I'm not going to go into a big explanation of this. Many others have explained it, and explained it very well.

I am, though, going to tell you where all this pizza/cake/flowers/photograph hoo-ha came from.

As I have existed, for many years, in the land of the right -- both religious and political -- I was able to observe much of the development of the anti-same-sex-marriage movement. And I came to realize that it was primarily based on fear. The movement had to make people afraid of what would happen to them if same-sex marriage became a reality. I heard priests and political people speak very persuasively about how we Christians would be persecuted if same-sex marriage were legalized. It truly was frightening. I became frightened. And I'm sorry for that. It was only after I started doing research and speaking to people on my own that I became un-frightened. Now -- mind you -- there were (and are) people who don't support same-sex marriage and who speak about their views in a way that is not fear-inducing. It is more philosphical and theological. But, there was (and is) A LOT of hysterical talk in the anti-same-sex-marriage movement.

So, when same-sex marriage was legalized in many places and nothing frightening occurred and most people were starting to make peace with their same-sex-married-couple neighbors, the anti-same-sex-marriage movement had to come up with a way to show the populace that they were, IN FACT, being religiously persecuted and should, IN FACT, be very afraid. Enter the Same-Sex-Pizza-Wars (insert "flowers" or "photography" or "cake" for "pizza," as you so desire).

Simply put: YOU ARE BEING PLAYED, nice conservative people.

(And here I'm going to put in a plug for the nice conservative people. Most of them don't hate anybody. Some of them do. This is true. And that hate is absolutely unacceptable. But, most of them don't. They are being played, which calls for a little patience and understanding on your part, nice progressive people.)

Because, you know what? Providing wedding services is not the same thing as participating in a marriage ceremony. And refusing to provide the services of your business because a marriage does not conform to your theology could rightfully be seen as constituting discrimination. I, personally, believe it does.

There are many types of marriages that the Catholic Church does not deem as "Sacramental" in its theology. Same-sex marriage is one of those types, but there are many others. I generally don't see the Catholic Church, or any other Christian churches, making a lot of noise about their members catering these other non-Sacramental weddings. So, frankly, it looks like we are picking on the LGBTQ people in a rather cruel way.

I look at it this way. I understand what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage. And I respect it. But, I am also quite sure that we don't know everything there is to know about human sexuality. And if somebody is gay or lesbian, forming a relationship with a person of the same sex is the natural thing to do. And these relationships are whole relationships. They are not just all about the sex act. They truly are about love and commitment. They are emotionally and spiritually supportive. They are TOTAL relationships.

Yes, there are unhealthy same-sex relationships. There are also unhealthy heterosexual relationships -- lots of them. But, same-sex relationships can also be very healthy and satisfying for the people involved. And I feel uncomfortable casting a negative judgment on these relationships. I think to myself, "I am very straight. What if I was told I either had to marry another woman or be alone for the rest of my life?" That kind of sums it up, for me.

So, this Catholic lady, who sent her kids to the three most conservative Catholic colleges IN THE WORLD, would -- if I knew how -- be very happy to arrange the flowers or bake the cake or take the pictures or prepare the pizza for your same-sex wedding. And I would wish you much happiness as I did so.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Watch "Gotham"

The ratings for the last couple episodes of "Gotham" have been down a bit. And it's too bad. It's really a great show. It has been renewed for a second season, so there's no danger of cancellation. But, it would be cool if the ratings picked up a bit (or a lot) as we head toward the season finale and await Season 2. Because I want a Season 3. And I don't want Ben McKenzie to be sad. He works too hard to have to be sad.

Now, I know many people started out watching "Gotham" and then quit after a few episodes. Y'all should come back. You should always give a new show AT LEAST five episodes, and probably more like seven, before you give up on it. It really takes that long for the thing to get out of the gate and get into its groove. You should believe me on this because somebody once called me a "film producer," so -- obviously -- I know about these things. Haha. Actually, you should believe me on this because I have skipped too much housework in lieu of watching a lot of TV in my life, and I have noticed this phenomenon.  And I'll tell you, "Gotham" has really gotten its s**t together. Mind you, I have enjoyed it from the get-go, but it has gotten better and better. For one thing, Ben McKenzie has truly found his Jim Gordon and is consistently "in the zone." Bravo, Ben! You are rockin' it.

I know some people also have an issue with "Gotham's" 8:00 time slot, especially parents. I have noticed that young people are pestering their parents to let them watch "Gotham," leading them to just put their foot down in a frustrated demonstration of parental authority. Thus, these poor moms and dads most likely don't even DVR the show and also -- probably -- boycott everything FOX. I have noticed that most people hate on FOX. The progressives hate on it because of the news and the conservatives hate on it because of its entertainment offerings. It's a wonder, of sorts, that FOX is even still on the air. I guess, though, that giving absolutely everybody something to hate on could make you quite popular.

Take heart, moms and dads. The violence on "Gotham," though present, is not gratuitous. It is appropriate for the story. And that story has key moral questions that your children should consider. Of course, I am not talking about 7-year-olds. But, I do think that children who are 10 years old and above could reap many benefits from watching "Gotham." The show presents to its audience the types of moral conundrums that most (if not all) of us will face in our lives. This is part of the value of a good story, which "Gotham" is. We see these fictional situations and fictional characters. We see how the characters -- some of whom we admire and some of whom we don't -- interact with the situations. We see what the results of those interactions are. There is much food for thought here, and many parallels with "real life." I homeschooled my kids for 13 years, and if "Gotham" had been on, I would have used it in writing lessons, ethics lessons, history lessons, political science lessons, art lessons... I almost want to have another baby so that I can use "Gotham" in lesson plans. (No. Not really. Just kidding. And -- besides -- I am "past the age.") The point is, though, that if you watch "Gotham" with your kids and you have any semblance of coolness about you as a parent, you can leverage it in order to teach your kids A LOT.

Also, as far as real life role models, you should want your kids to be acquainted with those involved in making "Gotham." The whole team is pretty incredible. They are positive people living positive lives. The actor who plays the young Bruce Wayne and the young actress who plays Selina Kyle (the future Catwoman) are prime examples of this. They are incredibly grounded, intelligent, energetic, joyful, engaged-with-life young people. They speak about their "real lives" and their work in a way which could inspire kids to live their own lives with both a sense of healthy fun and purpose. As they speak about the story of "Gotham," they shed light onto the creative process, which is an especially important thing for kids to understand as they navigate their way through the educational system's literature and writing assignments. Ben, himself, is a very good example for kids. He believes young people should work very hard, be very responsible, as they strive to reach worthwhile goals; and he will often speak of this. In fact, he can almost come off as a little bit of a curmudgeon. I actually told my daughter that if he ever has kids, he's going to be the world's strictest dad. ;-) What makes his message such a terrific one for young people, though, is the fact that he is a truly fun person and he has the right end-game in mind. --> He desires that kids grow up to do work that means something to them, work they will enjoy, work that will benefit both themselves and others. And he knows from experience and expresses quite effectively (i.e. in a way that kids will listen) what is necessary to achieve these things.

It seems this post has morphed from why people -- in general -- should watch "Gotham" into why parents should let their kids watch "Gotham." That really wasn't my original intention, but there you have it. And adults should watch it, too. It's beautifully crafted, well-written, compelling, thought-provoking, and a great deal of FUN! I actually think it's really all about President Obama. Or LBJ. Or FDR. Or even The Gipper. So... Catch up on those previously aired episodes and I hope to see you on Monday night in Gotham! And then I hope to see you on Tuesday night for "Agents Of Shield." We've gotta get Coulson out of that jam. I love Coulson!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Scott Lynch Is My Role Model

Scott is the youngest of my three children, with two older sisters. That fact alone should cause you to admire him. ;-) Anyway, he is 22 years old and a senior in college. And he is my role model.

Scott has a will of iron. He always has. When he was a toddler, if something did not happen according to his approval, he would scream and cry and bang his head on the floor. Usually, the head-banging happened on the living room rug, but once (and only once) it occurred outside on the cement patio. And Scott has always had very strong opinions about many things -- even as a toddler -- so, there were always copious occasions for head-banging.

When I was a young mother, trying to make sense of my little boy, I realized that lying at the root of all his apparent attempts at self-harm was the fact that he had -- basically -- the strongest will I had ever come across. And I knew (or, rather, hoped) that he would learn -- with my help -- to harness that will for good. And he has.

It has not been an easy road. For either of us. It has been a road worth traveling, though.

Because, along with this iron will, Scott has one of the greatest senses of justice and fairness that I have ever come across. When he was three, this sense of justice manifested itself in a resistance to learning certain bathroom skills and watching Mr. Rogers on television. For some reason, my son found Mr. Rogers -- and any other children's show -- to be highly objectionable. The only thing my son would watch was "Top Gun". He wanted to watch "Top Gun" every single day for most of his pre-school life, and I pretty much let him. With all that head-banging going on, I had to choose my battles carefully. Judge me, if you will, I don't care. My son is a history major, a docent at The Flying Leathernecks Aviation Museum at Miramar,  and he completed an internship at Pearl Harbor this past summer; and I give all the credit to Maverick, Goose, and Ben Affleck's performance in -- you know it -- "Pearl Harbor". (Yes. I let Scott watch "Pearl Harbor" when he was a small boy. Go ahead and judge me. I don't care.)

Scott also found learning the alphabet and listening to any sort of children's book contrary to his sense of justice and fairness. The only books he allowed me to read to him before he was five years old were "F-14 Tomcat Walk Around" and "Military Aircraft Identification." He did make an exception to his objection to children's books for "Curious George", though, which was kind of nice for me. I can't tell you how many hours I spent reading aloud to Scott about Pratt and Whitney engines, and such. I did, though, have one requirement that I made my son abide by. And he pretty much did abide by it, with just a few tears and boltering head passes at the family room floor. My requirement was that he had to identify certain capital and lower case letters in his favored books BEFORE I would read about such things as the Grumman E-2 Hawkeye. I would say, "Point to the 'G', Scott." And he would do it -- all the while giving me the evil eye. But, he would do it.

These sorts of negotiations between Scott and me continued throughout his childhood and most of his adolescence. If he didn't think a request being made of him -- by me or by anybody else -- was reasonable, he just wouldn't budge. Never mind the consequences. He was immovable. He would only consent to something if he deemed it necessary and appropriate.

As he got older, though, he began to view the world and its requirements with a more mature eye. And -- because his great sense of justice led to a great sense of conscientiousness and responsibility -- he began to cooperate with the demands of young adulthood, college admissions boards, and United States citizenship. This has not always been easy for him, for -- as we all know -- adulthood, colleges, and the United States government require some pretty stupid-ass things, sometimes.

I am really proud of Scott. I know his personality has not made life easy on him. And it never really will. He has to wrestle with himself a great deal, but the results of that internal sparring have led to a young man who is exceptional in kindness, patience, and -- yes -- justice.

Monday, February 16, 2015


...the heart just breaks. And there is nothing to be done about it.


...the heart is broken. And there is nothing to be done about it.


Sometimes... is just misunderstood. And there is nothing to be done about it.



...things are just out of your hands.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bridget Lynch Is My Role Model

Bridget is my second kiddo. She is 24 years old. And -- like her older sister before her -- she is my role model.

Bridget loves people. Really loves people. If you are Bridget's friend, or even her internet acquaintance, Bridget loves you. Unless you are a douche-bag. There's no in-between with Bridget. She either loves you. Or she doesn't. But she's not too hard on people, so don't fear. Although, you will win a bit more favor with Bridget by being a person of logical thinking skills. She favors St. Thomas, but if you are a Nietzsche fan, she'll be (sort of) okay with you. As long as you do Nietzsche right and don't use him as an excuse to be a douche-bag. If you learn the proper lessons from Nietzsche, then Bridget will be your friend. Which means she'll love you. 

Bridget will also love you if you are -- like me -- more a person of intuition than a person of logical thinking skills. As long as you use your intuition for good, and have at least a passing amount of respect for those who favor logic, Bridget will be your friend. Which means she'll love you. If you don't have at least a passing amount of respect for logical thinking, Bridget will still love you (as long as you aren't a douche-bag), but she may roll her eyes a lot and say "ugh" when not in your presence.

I learn a lot from Bridget's love of people. I, myself, like a great number of people, but it is harder for me to love them. At least in the way that Bridget does. Bridget loves people in a truly heartfelt way. Bridget loves people with the deepest of emotion. I love a few people like that, but not too many. I keep more of an emotional distance. I'm a bit more guarded with my heart. And I admire Bridget for opening herself up to love people -- even after having had more than one experience of being hurt and disappointed by her fellow human beings. And Bridget has had some pretty bad experiences with people. Those she thought were good have, at times, turned out to be douche-bags. She doesn't actually love those people, anymore (unless they were douche-bags in an unintentional, innocent type of way), but she lets herself go on loving new people. I would never do that. I don't do that. So, I really admire Bridget. And I wish I could be more like her.

Bridget is an exceedingly generous person, with both her time and her talents. She is also generous with her treasure -- even though she doesn't actually have any. If you're talking about percentages of net worth, Bridget probably gives more away than pretty much anybody else I know. For -- if you know Bridget -- you realize that she is, for health reasons, unable to work a normal job. She has a little home business (her Etsy store is The Bagel Box), making beautiful baby blankets and nursing covers and baby clothes. As you can imagine, this doesn't pull in a great deal of income. But Bridget still gives the people she loves gifts for all manner of special occasions. And she hates charging people for her baby items -- especially her friends, because she loves them, and wants to give them all things for free. She also donates regularly to her alma mater, because she tells me that they receive certain grants based on the percentage of alumni who donate. If I were Bridget, I would not even think that I should give money to my alma mater, being that I really didn't have an income. Bridget does it, though, cheerfully and without reservation. I am always telling her that she doesn't need to do this, but she ignores me. Bridget is also willing to help you out in any way that you need help, if you are her friend. Because she loves you. And I see that it truly makes Bridget happy to be generous. I ask her what her bank balance is, and she doesn't really know. I ask her if she actually has the time and energy to be helping out at church so much, and she always says she does. Even though I kind of know better. Last night, she hauled ass WAY down to La Mesa to help out with a choir that she isn't even going to perform with, because she knew the song they were rehearsing, and none of the other ladies did. They practiced the song for two hours and today Bridget has taken two doses of migraine medicine, thus far. I would be a little annoyed, if I were Bridget, but she is not in the least bit annoyed. Sometimes -- I admit -- I have to put a lid on all this generosity. I am glad, though, that she has such a giving heart. I'd rather have to put a stop to her once-in-a-while than have her be any different than how she is. She inspires me to be more generous myself, without worrying so much about my future assets.

I also see that because of her health problems and the -- not insignificant -- suffering they cause her, Bridget is developing a very deep spiritual life. Hers is not the kind of "spiritual life" that leads a person to become some sort of annoying "Christian motivational speaker." It is not the kind of "spiritual life" that leads one to judge other people who aren't being "Catholic enough." It is, rather, an authentic spiritual life, in which she is becoming closer to God and becoming great buddies with Him. They keep each other company. She doesn't talk about this, but I can see it. And I can tell she relies on this relationship with God, who is her friend (and because He is her friend, she loves Him, as she does all her friends) to sustain her in what she suffers because of her health. I also see that her spiritual life is authentic because of the way it leads her to be LESS judgmental and more open and loving to all kinds of people -- including her "hippie" mother, who loves nothing more than a good drum solo at Mass.

I know some of you are probably thinking that this is a rather boastful blog post. I don't mean it to be, and I'm sorry if it comes across that way. I just want Bridget to know that I do admire her. And I look up to her. Even when I tell her to stop writing those checks to TAC, for heaven's sake. ;-)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gotham: Okay. Where is the damn ring??? ;p

If we knew the answer to this question, it would clear a whole lotta things up.

"What ring?" you may be asking.


Because I believe she had one. If she didn't, this whole post is pointless and you may as well click away now.

Barbara, if you are not aware, is (or was) engaged to Jim Gordon. After being kidnapped by one of the seemingly infinite array of gangsters running around Gotham City, she ended up "taking a break" from Jim. She left him a "Dear John" letter -- as well as her fancy apartment -- and headed back into the arms of her long-ago lover, Renee Montoya. I don't blame her really. Renee -- in many ways -- is much less annoying than Jim. I mean, I love Jim. Jim is great. But, he would be a rather difficult man with whom to be involved. He is intelligent, honest, handsome, looks nice in a suit, and -- apparently -- mixes a good cocktail. On the other hand, he is stubborn, rather emotionally unavailable, and so gung-ho and hard-charging that he probably would not be the most relaxing person with whom to pass a pleasant Sunday afternoon watching the Dallas Cowboys. After observing Jim for a while, it's kinda easy to understand why Barbara drinks a little.


Back to the "Dear John" letter.

We see Jim reading said letter and then leaving Barbara a heartfelt phone message -- begging her to come back to him. As he leaves this message, Barbara is in the arms of Renee. This little scene led many in the "Gotham" fandom to "hate on" Barbara. (Ben McKenzie really does know how to do those facial expressions that get you totally on his side. My Bridget thinks -- based on these facial expressions -- that his teachers probably let him get away with a whole lot of stuff when he was a little boy.) But if you close your eyes and ignore the facial expressions and stay calm for a moment, I would like to point out one thing. It did not take long for our hero to find himself a new girlfriend -- all before even tracking down Barbara and talking with her. I mean -- come on -- the man is a DETECTIVE. Don't tell me he couldn't have found Barbara. He knows Barbara used to be involved with Renee. If I were a detective, I think I'd know where to look first. Come to think of it, maybe this is why Gotham is in such a mess. Do ALL their law enforcement officials have such weak powers of deductive reasoning? That would explain much. No offense Jim, but I don't think you tried all that hard here.

(Now I am going to get "hated on.") ;-)

But -- STOP.


There is one little question that would solve this whole conundrum of who is in the right and who is in the wrong and who (if anybody) should be "hated on."



If Barbara kept the ring, then we should "hate on" BOTH her and Jim. Because that would mean they are still "technically" engaged. If the lady says, "We need to take a break," AND she keeps the ring, then she really hasn't broken off the engagement and she shouldn't be in anybody else's arms. Period. End of story. ESPECIALLY if her man is on a detective's salary. And if the man has not gotten back the ring, then it is his obligation to track down said ring AND the lady to whom he gave it, requesting (respectfully, of course) some answers as to their relationship status, before he takes up with a beautiful doctor. ESPECIALLY if that man is a detective, who would be logically assumed to possess "detecting" skills.

If -- on the other hand -- Barbara left the ring, along with the "Dear John" letter, for Jim to find, then both are off the hook. The engagement is over, called off, nullified. Period. End of story. And each party is free to be in somebody else's arms. Although -- perhaps -- they might find their new lovers in a way which employs a bit more good, old-fashioned, Italian common sense/suspicion. One thing we know, for sure, is that both Jim and Barbara are lacking competent Italian mothers. We've seen Barbara's mother, of course. And she's obviously NOT Italian. Not at all. If Barbara were my daughter, I would have met her at the door with coffee, cookies, and a good rehab doctor. We haven't seen Jim's mother, but she is -- evidently -- no better than Ben Sherman's. And we all know how that turned out. And if you don't know how that turned out, you'd better go watch "SouthLAnd." Right now.


"SouthLAnd" forever... ;-)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Andrea Lynch Is My Role Model

Andrea Lynch is my 26-year-old daughter. I raised her, yes. But -- she is much a much better woman than I. Especially for her age. I often think kids are born with their own characters and personalities, at least for the most part. It is basically our job as parents to keep our kids alive until adulthood, allowing healthy opportunities for those characters and personalities to unfold. Andrea actually reminds me A LOT of my nana (my father's mother). She looks like her, acts like her, walks like her, talks like her. And they never even met, as my nana passed away when I was 12.

Anyway, Andrea is a stellar person. And my role model. I don't try to be exactly like her, of course. That would be silly, and unnatural. She possesses certain wonderful characteristics, though, in much more abundance than I. And I try to learn from those.

One of the things about Andrea that most stands out to me is her nonjudgmental nature. Andrea is the MOST TRULY NONJUDGMENTAL person I have ever known. I really don't know how she does it.

Andrea is a very Catholic person. She knows her faith well and practices it seriously. This leads many people to believe she would judge them -- on at least some level -- for their moral failings (or maybe it is better to say their moral failings as defined by Catholicism). But, she doesn't. At all. Really and truly. Andrea is able to be both a serious Catholic and a completely nonjudgmental person. This is a wonderful gift, because she is able to move throughout society, living her life as she believes she should, and allowing others to live their lives as they believe they should. She is kind and positive and happy towards everybody. She is able to be a true friend to all kinds of people. Unless -- of course -- you are not a nice person. And believe you me, Andrea will KNOW if you are not a nice person.

Back in her college days, Andrea had a Latina friend who told me, "Andrea has the sixth sense." And I think this is true. Andrea just kind of knows about people -- whether they are good or bad. She does get a sense about them -- very quickly. She doesn't make a lot of noise about it, but she'll let me know if she thinks somebody is shady. And at least 9 times out of 10 -- probably more like 10 times out of 10 -- she has been right.

Andrea also has a very well-guarded tongue. She is quite observant, but she is not quick to speak. Andrea could work in the most sensitive of places -- the CIA, the NSA, Hollywood -- and be completely trustworthy with the most sensitive of information. Of course, you could get nothing by her, either. But, you would know that she wouldn't shoot off her mouth about your business.

One final thing I would like to mention about Andrea is her work ethic. The girl just loves to go to work. Absolutely loves it. I have never seen anybody love to go to work like Andrea. And she works hard. Really, really hard. Harder than I ever have.

Again, please don't think I am bragging here. Because Andrea really is my role model. These things I have mentioned are things that I don't think I taught her specifically. They are things that have just developed over time, and which I would do well to learn from and emulate.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Liza & Leslie -- Two Peas In A Pod?

If you are not watching "Gotham," you should be. I know some of you gave it up in frustration after a few episodes, but it has really gotten its groove on, lately. So, you should give it another try.

And if you are watching "Gotham," you will know about Liza and Leslie. Liza was a beautiful young woman (who also seemed to have spent some time fighting MMA) sent to spy on Falcone by Fish, as part of Fish's attempt to stage a coup on Falcone's empire. Liza was all dressed up and trained by Fish to appeal to both Falcone's remembrances of his dearly-departed mother and his sex drive. It really was kind of kinky. But Fish -- being all about kink -- knew how to do it exactly right. It would have worked, too, except for the Little Bird telling. And -- now -- poor Liza is at the bottom of the proverbial river.

Dr. Leslie Thompkins is another beautiful young woman (sans any apparent MMA skills), who has suddenly become the love interest of Jim Gordon. Or -- rather -- in my feminism, I prefer to think of Jim Gordon as becoming the love interest of Dr. Leslie Thompkins. She seems to be the ideal gal for our beleaguered hero, after he is dumped by Barbara and booted from his detective position in the GCPD and forced to work as a security guard in the Arkham Asylum For The Criminally Insane. Dr. Thompkins appears as an angel out of nowhere when poor Jim is at his lowest point. She both admires him (exactly what his battered male ego needs) and gives him much-needed assistance (while still respecting that male ego). She is beautiful, intelligent, idealistic, funny, and impeccably coiffed (this last being a quality which Jim seems to value, judging by Barbara). The lovely Leslie is able to joke with Jim -- even poking a little fun at him. But, she jokes in such a way as to amuse him without crossing the line into stomping on that aforementioned male ego. She -- in short -- is both the perfect ally and lover for Jim.

A little too perfect, maybe???

A little bit like Liza, maybe???

I know, I know. These are absolutely HORRID thoughts to be having about Leslie Thompkins. HORRID. I am ASHAMED. But, there you have it. I can't help but be a bit suspicious. It's in my middle-aged Italian mother nature to be suspicious of ALL love interests -- whenever and wherever they may appear, real or fictional -- until they prove themselves worthy of my trust.

One thing I know, though, is that if Leslie does turn out to be a bad guy, she won't end up at the bottom of the proverbial river, strangled to death by our hero's hands. I don't think so, anyway. But... This is Gotham, after all.

And Gotham -- when all is said and done -- will be Gotham.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Let's Not Slut-Shame Barbara. Okay???

Who is Barbara?

Barbara is Barbara Kean of "Gotham". She is engaged to Det. Jim Gordon and let's just say there's a lot of trouble in paradise. I'm not going to summarize the whole plot here, so if you don't watch "Gotham," you'll probably be confused. Sorry.

Anyway, Barbara and Jim are busy being all gorgeous together in Barbara's gorgeous penthouse when it turns out that there are many, many more problems in Gotham than Det. Gordon had realized when he came on the job. Most people would take all that gorgeousness and move someplace safer, but not Jim. Jim is stubborn and tenacious and righteous. And -- by golly -- he is going to fix Gotham.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Barbara has many, many more problems than Det. Gordon had realized when he proposed to her and moved all his suits, ties, and spare guns into her gorgeous penthouse. These problems involve past (and current) difficulties with alcohol, drugs, and a beautiful former (not-quite-gotten-over) lover who works with Jim Gordon. Jim, apparently -- for all of his detective skills -- knows nothing about the alcohol (well, he knows a bit about the alcohol), drugs, and former beautiful lover (even though he works with her). Jim is a very trusting person, for a detective. Bless his heart. I have known a few law enforcement types. And they are usually quite suspicious. Of everybody and everything. I'm glad, though, that Jim has not yet fallen into that cynicism. It is rather refreshing, except it does keep him from noticing a lot of things that would be worth noticing. Like the smell of pot that certainly must permeate that penthouse, from what I've seen.

Barbara, though, for all her problems, really does love Jim. She wants to stand by his side and be strong and helpful. She desires greatly to be helpful. And in her desire to help her man in his time of need, she ends up getting kidnapped by the bad guys. And in the aftermath of this undoubtedly traumatic event, she ends up leaving Jim and going back to her former, not-quite-so-gotten-over, beautiful lover. Poor Jim. You see him leaving a pleading, heartfelt message on her cell phone. He tells her he loves her and begs her to come back to him. (After all, who is going to pay the rent on that penthouse? He is on a detective's salary, after all. No, no. Sorry. That is SO cynical of me. And it isn't true, either. Jim really does love Barbara and wants her to come back.) And while Jim is leaving this heartfelt message, we see Barbara in the arms of her beautiful lover. It really was quite sexy. And I am straight as straight can be. So, that is sexy. Believe me.

After this episode of "Gotham" aired, I noticed something. I noticed a lot of people on Twitter slut-shaming Barbara. Some of them -- in their passionate vociferousness -- seemed to forget that she is a fictional character. There was a lot of real nastiness going on toward Barbara. Downright mean comments about what she was doing to poor Jim. (And yes. Ben McKenzie REALLY knows how to do those hang-dog eyes. He can work it with those "feel sorry for my character" facial expressions and voice. It is quite something. And this is not an insult, in case you're wondering. It is a compliment. The guy knows how to make you feel for his characters, without going all overboard and sappy. He plays it just right. Go, Ben.) I kind of had a hard time, though, dealing with the cut-to-the-bone insults being hurled at Barbara, all about how she's a slut. I mean, wait just a freakin' minute here. Let's think about this.

Now, I am not saying that Barbara did the right thing. But, looked at compassionately, I think she did an understandable thing. She definitely isn't a slut.

First, she and Jim had kinda been having a rocky time. She felt that he was shutting her out of his life. He was shutting her out -- to a large degree -- but, this was to protect her. He could have done a better job in getting this across to her, though. A great communicator, he is not. He is a very, very good guy. Absolutely good. But, he is a little stubborn and a little reticent in expressing himself and -- perhaps -- a bit prideful and self-righteous. And these traits do not combine to make a person a good communicator during stressful times in a relationship.

Secondly, Barbara is in no condition -- dealing with all the baggage of her past and present life -- to be able to form a healthy romantic relationship. She needs to put her own house in order. But, she also really wants to be strong and good. She wants to love and be loved. But, she doesn't know how to make peace with her past in order to give and receive love in a proper fashion. Like a lot of us. A lot of us are like Barbara, at least at points in our lives. We go through crap. We don't know how to put that crap to rest. And it affects how we form relationships. So, before we go hurling stones at Barbara, we should take a look at ourselves and our moments of vulnerability.

Thirdly, if you recall, when Barbara was being held by the bad guys, one of those bad guys made a remark to Jim about having to rough Barbara up a bit in order to make sure that she didn't have any valuable information. Hmmm... It was kind of a passing remark, but maybe more significant than we realize. What, exactly, did they do to Barbara? Did they -- possibly -- sexually assault her? If she was assaulted -- sexually, or otherwise -- that would explain a lot of her subsequent behavior, especially her return to her former lover. I mean, she was already having a struggle with substance abuse. She apparently has crappy parents. Jim was not being the easiest guy in the world to deal with. And then she gets assaulted, perhaps in a sexual way? You put all those things together and her decision to leave Jim and go back to Renee would not be surprising.

Anyway, this is just my two cents, for what their worth. And thank-you for taking the time to read this. Hope to be seeing you in Gotham!!! ;-)