Friday, October 31, 2014

On What-the-Heck-Was-I-Thinking-? Day

October 28th used to be three-days-‘til-Halloween day for me.  This year it was what-the-heck-was-I-thinking-? day!

In the weeks leading up to October 28th, I lived in complete denial.  Surely, I thought, something will intervene and October 28th will go back to being three-days-‘til-Halloween day, like it ought to be.  I looked to the weather gods and was pleased to see the forecast for October 28th calling for snow.  Yes!  Three feet of the white stuff will keep people at home.  Alas, they were just toying with me.  It merely rained, but not hard enough.

When people asked me about it, I responded with a firm, “I don’t know,” as my eyes darted down and to the left giving away my lie.

There was no getting around it.  In the end, I had to go with what-the-heck-was-I-thinking-? day and make my way to the All Candidates forum where I, along with eleven other candidates (2 for mayor & 9 others for Council) delivered two short speeches and responded to questions from the media and the audience.  Thankfully, there were only a few that I had to answer directly.  The mayoral candidates, however, were put through their paces and challenged on some sensitive issues.

I thought that I had been hoping that not many people would show up.  I thought that I had been hoping that the turnout would be poor.  It was anything but.  Nearly every chair was filled and a sea of attentive eyes and ears were focused upon us all throughout the evening.  Oddly, as the hall filled, I became quite pleased by the turnout.   One of my biggest pet peeves as a citizen of Houston is the lack of community participation.  Well on October 28th, the community participated.  It was fabulous!

The event was stimulating.  There was a lot of information to absorb and by the break my mind was nearing capacity.  I tried to pay attention to what the other candidates were saying and watch the people in the audience.  I love people watching and there were a lot of people to watch.  Some nodded in response to what candidates were saying.  Some appeared to be present in body, but elsewhere in spirit.  Some chatted with their neighbours.  Were they comparing notes about the candidates?  Or making plans for the weekend?  Hard to say.

After the break I found it hard to focus.  The political rhetoric had left me a bit numb and the audience was reaching that point where they seemed to have heard enough and were just politely waiting to be dismissed.  I said my reasonably well rehearsed piece and also waited politely to be dismissed.  I had much to think about; much to process and filter.  I knew that my mind would not go easily to sleep and I accepted that.

I accepted that!

I realized it just before midnight when I looked at the clock and was slightly surprised to discover that I had made no attempt to get ready for bed yet.  Hmmm…  While it is not uncommon these days for me to still be awake at that hour, it is typical for me to at least be in bed reading.  Winding down.  Resting, if not sleeping.  But not that night.  That night as October 28th became October 29th, I was wide awake and mentally reviewing the events of the evening.

And then I realized something else.  I was not beating myself up for not having said something I didn’t say.  I was not regretting a word of either of my speeches.  I was thoroughly content that I presented myself authentically.  This is who I am, I thought.  There was nothing to apologize for and nothing to regret.  My thoughts turned to the other candidates.  Did they feel the same way?

I have always only voted for one reason:  so that I could retain the right to complain.  I feel quite strongly that if people don’t participate, they forfeit their right to whine.  I don’t want to forfeit that right.  Neither do I want to spend all my time complaining.  A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a picture on Facebook of a sign that read – Before you complain…  Have you volunteered yet?  It struck a chord with me.  Putting a tick beside some stranger’s name on a ballot wasn’t really enough.  It was a weak and indolent approach to take just for the right to complain.  (Oops!  A worm of regret slithered through me.)

I am not a political person.  I don’t involve myself in pondering the “issues” and I often feel like the issues are just things that get invented so that politicians have something to condemn each other over and blame each other for.  I just want to be a good person.  That’s enough.  Isn’t it?

I think that politics is changing.  There have been so many barriers put up and now people are starting to realize that they can’t see what’s really happening.  It’s time to take those barriers down.  And maybe that’s why I’m doing this.  Running for Council.  Because I think it’s time to challenge some of the established ideology and look for some different ways to do things.

I have felt for a very long time that I have some purpose here in this world that I have yet to identify.  I have been waiting – sometimes not very patiently – to discover what the purpose is and to try to fulfill it.  For over a year, the notion of running for Council has been an ever-present specter permeating every aspect of my psyche.  It isn’t just something that I thought I might try; I was compelled to do this.  While there have been moments of anxiety, moments of dread, it mostly feels right.

I don’t know what it going to happen on November 15th.  I know that I will be disappointed if I’m not elected.  Yet I think that I even if I’m not I will be happy that I tried.  I have a lot to offer; I know that.  But if the voters choose otherwise, I am confident that something else will come out of all this – something good.

Only fifteen more sleeps!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Heat is a Good Option

People who know me, know that I keep my house rather on the cool side.  Some of my friends keep slippers at my place so their feet don't freeze when they come to visit.  It's not uncommon for guests to wear warm sweaters or wrap one of the throws that I keep in the living room around their shoulders, while I parade around in a t-shirt.  I can't stand being too hot.  

When I arrived home from work on Tuesday evening, I was not the least bit uncomfortable.  My house felt cool and refreshing at 18 degrees and my evening routine unfolded without my being the least bit suspect that anything was amiss.  

Until bedtime.  At 10:30 I prepared to retire to bed to read for a while and I noticed that the house felt unusually cool.  I was surprised to see that the thermostat said that it was only 15 degrees though it was set for 18.  Hmmmm...

I tapped the switch up a notch and was satisfied to hear the furnace drone to life below me.  Confident that the furnace knew what to do I continued with my evening ablutions.  Teeth brushed, hair braided, face washed, I was fluffing my pillows when it dawned on me that there was no warm air rushing out of the vent in my bedroom.  Hmmmm....

After a bit of investigation I came to the conclusion that the furnace was not working.  It was far too late to be calling anyone, so I grabbed an extra blanket and plugged a space heater in and went to bed.  The noise from the heater kept me awake and I finally unplugged it.  It wasn't that cold!  I figured I'd survive the night and deal with the problem in the morning.

In the morning, I called a repairman.  There was no answer, so I called another repairman.  That repairman was unavailable, so I call the first one back and left a message.  Some friends texted or called to offer support in the form of extra heaters and other advice.  I was not about to attempt any furnace repairs on my own, so I was ecstatic when a very good friend offered to come and check it out for me that evening.  When the repairman called back, I thanked him for getting back to me and put him on hold for Thursday in case we couldn't figure it out.  

In very short order, we determined that the furnace wasn't getting any gas.  But we couldn't figure out why.

"Did you pay your gas bill?" my friend asked.  

"Yes!"  Of course I paid my gas bill.  Silly!

As the confusion elevated, the notion to go outside and look at the meter popped into my head.  I had no idea what looking at the meter was going to do for me, but I went anyway, exiting through the basement door (which I very, very rarely use).  Yep, that's a gas meter, I thought as I shone the beam from my iPhone flashlight over it.  And then I went back inside.  Something on the handle fluttered as I opened the door.  

It was a notice from Pacific Northern Gas informing me that they had installed a brand new meter and had left the gas off.  Oh, for heaven's sake!

"I think I know what's wrong," I called out, waving the notice in the air.

I handed the notice to my friend, who executed a perfect eye roll and uttered a mild oath. 

It would have been better if this had been left
on my main entrance door, instead of the basement
door that I rarely use.  But it is still better than a
repair bill!  
A few minutes later, the furnace whooshed to life and began to merrily force hot air through the duct work again.  Soon my house was back to normal cool, a comfortable 18 degrees.  

As I lay in bed later, I realized that I had not once agonized over this situation.  Not once did a worst-case scenario invade my psyche and send me into a dither.  Somehow, I managed to remain calm about it all.  Somehow I knew that it would all work out.  

And then I felt a profound appreciation and sense of gratitude envelop me.  The kindness of my friends who offered to help was so heartwarming.  I am so very, very fortunate to have such amazing people in my life.  For this I am truly thankful.  

I am thankful, too, that it did work out the way it did.  Even if my house is usually on the cool side, heat is a good option!   

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's Official.

I am feeling strangely calm about my nomination for council in the upcoming municipal elections.  In a totally freaked out sort of way.  That I can’t explain. 

Let me explain…

As is my wont, I had a bit of a meltdown after submitting the paperwork.  I’m expecting there to be more of those to come.  But right now, right this minute, I feel utterly calm.  

It could very well be due to being somewhat overwhelmed by all the official-ness of the whole process.  They make it sound like this is a way bigger deal than I think it actually is. 

Not that it’s not important.  It is.  But wow!  What a lot of…  what’s the word I’m looking for?...  crap! 

When I went to ask for a nomination package I was handed an enormous envelope stuffed not only with the required forms, but with six or seven books and booklets.  My first thought was:  Really? 

Was this necessary?  All this paperwork?  All this information?  All this paper? 

The paperwork turned out to be not all that daunting.  When I sat down to fill it in, it took me all of three minutes.  A bit of information.  A couple of signatures.  And – poof! – it was done.  In fact, the whole thing - filing my nomination papers - was rather anticlimactic.  

I did attempt to read the information.  My eyes glazed over about three pages into the first book I picked up and so I put it aside for several days, coming back to it with a small measure of determination and a wavering heart about the whole thing.    The scales of decision have been tipping back and forth for ages.  Not even the over-load of information was enough to keep them on the don’t-do-it side. 

The notion to run for council popped into my head about a year ago.  I tried to shake it.  But, like a dog with a bone, my mind would not let go.  I tried to come up with a really good reason for not running.  I couldn’t.  I mentioned it to various people and got mixed reactions.  Some were very encouraging.  Others were like: You’ll hate it.  (As if winning was a given, which was kind of flattering, and I was completely unsuited to the task, which was kind of insulting.  And since none of these people had any practical experience, I couldn’t put much stock in their responses.)

I talked to a couple of people I know who are on council, asking what it was like.  They were weirdly vague and unhelpful.  “It’s interesting.”  “It’s a lot of work.”  “It’s not what you think.”  (I didn’t know what to think – that’s why I was asking!)

But the feeling that this was something that I needed to do would not go away.  And now that I am officially an official candidate, I am at odds with this sense of calm that has settled over me.  Usually, when I make a life-changing decision it is the equivalent of strapping myself onto an emotional rollercoaster.  Where’s the drama!?  I’m used to drama.

I am a little concerned about all the rules.  In scanning the information that I have so far been able to force myself to scan, I’ve come across some slightly scary shit that made my guts gurgle a little.  There are definitely some no-nos involved.  It kind of made me wish I had a campaign manager.  (I’m amazed it didn’t make me run screaming in the opposite direction!)

This is quite out of character for me.  I have never had any desire to hold any kind of public office.  I have tried all my life to avoid (unsuccessfully, mind you) any professional authority or responsibility.  I have always thought of myself as the kind of person who should stay in the background.  And yet I don’t seem to be able to do that.  So maybe this isn’t out of character at all.  Maybe I am operating in complete denial of my true self and purpose. 

Maybe I need to go install the shelf and rod in my spare room closet and stop trying to analyse this. 

In case you might be interested, my Facebook campaign page can be found here:

And my campaign blog (in which I will stick to campaign stuff – I think) can be found here:

I'm not unexcited about running for Council.  I am.  Excited, that is.  I just didn't expect to be this calm about it.  And while that could change in an instant, I do intend to have some fun with it all.  

Happy Thanksgiving, by the way!  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Real Food

Dinner last night consisted of meat and potatoes and peas.  It doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? 

Well, for me it was in a way.  You see I grew the peas and the potatoes.  And the meat was a yak roast raised right here on a local farm. 

Yep.  I said yak.  Locally bred and locally raised. 

My dinner - all locally grown/raised.  Real food!
Over the past few years I have learned a lot about a lot of stuff that I probably would have been happier not knowing.  Stuff about stuff.  Stuff about how stuff affects us all.  
It’s kind of scary – stuff is.  And not to sound overly dramatic, stuff is dangerous.

Sadly food has become stuff. 

But the food I ate last night was real food.  It wasn’t stuff.  (Though I was quite stuffed by the time my plate was empty!)  It was grown and raised and harvested quite naturally.  Except for a bit of butcher paper that the yak roast was wrapped in, there was no packaging involved.  There was no transportation from some faraway place.  The carbon footprint of that meal was pretty much negligible compared to the stuff I normally eat.  There was no advertising.  No corporate branding.  A mere handful of people were involved in the process from farm to table. 

And it tasted amazing!

Food – real food – like this makes want more.  Wouldn’t it be grand to have a big garden?  Wouldn’t it be awesome to have access to local farm raised meat on a regular basis?  And eggs.  And milk.  And cheese.  I think it would be so cool to have a local food co-op where people raise and grow their own food and share it among the members. 


I would never make a farmer.  It’s not in me.  Every cow, every pig, every chicken would have a name.  I can’t eat anything if it has a name and I know it.  But I could grow veggies.  I could collect eggs. 

Well, maybe someday.  You never know.

For now I will enjoy the real food whenever I can.  Like right now.  Dinner tonight is left overs!  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I Cut Off My Muse to Spite My Art!

After a brief (ish) foray into the world of WordPress, I have decided to return to this, my old blog and see if I can’t resurrect my blogger muse.  I’d be happy if any creative muse would grace me with her presence these days.  Sheesh!  I can’t knit.  I can’t draw.  I can’t write…  It’s like I’ve had a secret creative-ectomy. 

Not good.

So I’ve been pondering… Where does inspiration come from?

And I’ve come up with a few answers:

Sometimes it’s spontaneous.  It just happens.  An urge overcomes me and I just do.  It’s not thought out or planned.  This is relatively rare.  And getting rarer.

Sometimes it is a response.  In my case it’s often been a response to resistance that I interpret as a challenge.  When someone says “you can’t” or perhaps just poses a negative attitude, I feel compelled to push back against it. 

Three and a half years into my independent life I just realized that I no longer have that resistance to push back against.  There is nothing challenging me.  (Not that life is without its challenges; there are no shortage of those!)  I can do whatever I want now, and, weirdly, that has led me to a state of complacency rather than the freedom I had anticipated.  I don’t have to prove anything.  So I don’t.

How freaking sad is that?

The very thing that made me absolutely nuts it seems was the very thing that fueled my creativity.  I cut off my muse to spite my art!

Well, damn!

There is no longer anyone in my life to bounce ideas off of either.  Thankfully, I still have tons (and tons) of ideas floating around in my head.  There simply isn’t anyone around anymore to play devil’s advocate with them, no one to build excitement for them with and no one to collaborate with. 

With neither a naysayer nor a champion around my creative energy has grown stagnant.  I still want to do the things I love to do, yet doing them isn’t happening. 

So what do I do?  How do I get my muse back?   What will whip what has grown torpid back into a tempest?  I need a generator in which to plug the tools I create with back into.  I need to find the magic again.