Alan Alda and the Meaning of Life

So I listened to Alan Alda’s podcast today with renowned physicist Brian Greene and he threw me into a sort of existential crisis. Greene projects that we are all sacs of particles who, because math and science rule, have no free will—at least at the molecular level. His reasoning was sound but falls apart at the macroscopic level, where he concedes free will might play a role. He continues by saying free will is possible in our search for meaning to life, which, he conjectures, is not universal. There is no 42. Love does not rule all. Meaning in life is a purely individual pursuit and it is up to us to stop searching “out there” and look within for meaning.

Well fuck, I thought to myself. At first blush on the inside I’m nothing more than a foulmouthed, dumpy clutterbug who likes cupcakes just a bit too much for society’s taste. Somehow I manage to reinvent myself with self-help books and motivational apps every five years, while still staying. Exactly. The. Same. It’s frustrating because I fall into the “someday” trap when thinking about goals and aspirations. I’ll finish my novel…someday. I’ll change out my shutters (and clean my house and finish my laundry and…)…someday. I’ll lose fifty pounds…someday. I’ll pay off my debt…you guessed it…someday.

All this introspection has me thinking about whether the outside matches the inside. And if so, is the meaning of my life as fucked up and disorganized as one would surmise when glancing at the “math” of my life. I would like to propose that it’s the “somedays” that actually refocus me onto the “todays” that define my life. Today I was a rock for my struggling daughter. Today I helped a physicist better communicate their research. Today I mopped up water in my basement from the torrential downpour that hit last night. These “todays” mean I am living in the present and am there for those who need me. Some may see it as just getting by, but being present in the here and now is the closest I can get to creating permanence in this lifetime. And I wonder if perhaps the true meaning of my life is all these todays put together so I can look back on a life well lived…someday.

Scene #23 from quarantine

I put the car in park, turn the engine off, and turn to face my oldest daughter, the last strains of Declan McKenna fading.
“But no one I know has Corona, I don’t understand why we can’t hang out at the park…”
“Because the governor has called for a stay at home order and that’s not practicing social distancing.”
“It’s just not fair.”

Silent tears burn her cheeks. It’s hard being a cooped up teen when springtime beckons. She heaves a heavy sigh and slams the car door shut, stomping off to the house. I take a sip of my sweet tea and open the door to join her.

She is in her room. Dinner is made in silence as children are dispersed. I cut up the tomatoes, making sure to cut up a few extra for my angsty teen, wondering whether it’s all for naught if dinner is to be shunned to underscore her previous point.

“Doodle, monkeys, dinner…” I call, hoping mealtime will calm the torrent of emotions this quarantine has caused.

The kitchen is filled with hungry kids as everyone dresses their tacos. She stands next to me, carefully adding tomatoes to the filled shells and as she turns to leave, she quietly says, “Thank you for dinner, Mommy.”

The ice is broken and I soon hear her laughing and facetiming on her phone, the only way she can connect these days. Adolescence in the new normal is not for the fainthearted.

Seven Sentences for Someday: The New Decade Edition

1. We had a bit of an inauspicious start to the new year. At exactly 11:58 Paisley sat on the remote, exing us out of our Hulu which we were using to watch Steve Harvey bring in the new year. By the time I got it started again, the ball had dropped and they were singing  New York, New York. Tears ensued and even though we rewatched it, it wasn’t the same.
2.  2019 was the first year in as long as I can remember that I didn’t have pork, black eyed peas, and greens on New Years. I made $18k less, had a number of personal setbacks, and ended a five year relationship with someone I love. I’m going back to basics this year and have already eaten my peas, pork, and greens.
3.  I have the next 4 days completely free. After catching up on sleep, I am going to work on cleaning this house!

4. Once the Super Bowl is over I’m ditching live tv til next September. I doubt I’ll miss much.
5. Adam gave me the sweetest, most thoughtful Christmas presents ever. He continually amazes me with his ability to know just what I need.
6. I’m not making any hard and fast resolutions this year.  My sticktoitness is at an all time low.
7. I just resolve to be kind.

I love you all, some more than others.

I entered a writing contest through NYCMidnight and was tasked with writing a story under 250 words with the following parameters:

Genre: Fantasy/Fairytale

Action: Attending a funeral

Word: Unknown

The following is what I came up with. I give you Death of the Commandant

The best part of a superhero funeral was not the food, not the wardrobe choices, for those paying their respects came in uniform. No, it was the gossip. 

“I heard it was heartbreak that ultimately did him in…” Lady LaCroix whispered to Sir Steel, who shrugged his shoulders while stuffing a crab puff into his mouth.

“Have you seen Diamond Doll since the news?” Dr. Wonder asked Mr. Huge, who shook his head in the negative.

The official report from the coroner stated the cause of death was unknown, but the Positivity Posse knew otherwise. No force could take down someone like the Commandant unless it was tapped into dark energy–and Captain Tachyon, their evasive, most disruptive foe to date, seemed to have dark energy in excess.

“We need a plan,” said Ms. Speedshot.

Suddenly the door to the Leviticus Lair burst open, and there in a sea of both fire and ice stood Diamond Doll. “It was you, you bougie bitch!” Diamond Doll said, pointing in the direction of Lady LaCroix. “You tricked the Commandant into sleeping with you so that Captain Tachyon could attack when he was most vulnerable. You are a disgrace to the Posse.”

The collective gasp when Sir Steel immediately turned Lady LaCroix to metal without a trial was interrupted by a giant “hoo-rah!” from Major USA. The superheroes shuffled metal Lady Lacroix off to recycling and went about their mourning, wondering where Captain Tachyon would strike next.


Seven Sentences for Someday: The Hump Day Edition

  1.  I think I have failed at my SSFS in the past because Sundays are crazy hectic at my house. I’m either frantically getting ready for the kids to go back to Will’s or I’m frantically getting ready for the kids to come home.
  2. I’ve remedied this by retitling it Seven Sentences for Someday. That way I can write any day of the week without guilt.
  3. I can read a 150 page physics article in a little over a full work day, but it has taken me 6 weeks to read 66 pages of my current book, Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson. The book is wildly entertaining, I am just all read out by the time evening hits that my brain can’t handle any more words. I’m hoping to finish it when we go to the beach in 13 days.
  4. Not that I’m counting, but we go to the beach in less than two weeks, with a stop through Atlanta to see family on our way down. The kids each have a boogie board and I have 4 bottles of sunscreen just for the trip.
  5. We have to miss Cincinnati Pride for our trip, something Rhett has been quite vocal about her disappointment.
  6. Paisley has been gone this week to Girl Scout Camp. I miss my little snuggle buddy, but it has been extremely quiet without her and Rhett going at it like cats and dogs!!
  7. It’s been almost four months since Adam and I broke up and I still tear up when I think about it. I consider him one of my best friends, so I look forward to the day when those tears will be replaced by only smiles and no quivering chin. I know….someday.

I love you all, some more than others.

A resounding YAWP!

The Universe tells me to write and yet I have no idea what to write about. I am a creative wasteland. Even in the Universe, the same storylines are repeated over and over. I take a deep meditative breath and my virtual reality goggles come on as I launch into the multiverse. Where will it take me today? A world leaders’ summit? At the table of the gods on Mt. Olympus? Traveling through space and time of the vast multiverse? Or simply fallible Destiny, destined to rehash all of her worst mistakes? I feel there is more to me than just my mistakes, I have a track record of good deeds to prove it.

I glance at the pink sticky note that screams, “DO!” at me in an attempt to inspire and motivate, and I find myself wondering in the midst of my meditative state, how can I effect change? How can I “Do” as my sticky note commands? My thoughts start tumbling and I am whisked away to a make believe place that as a mother I know well. It’s a place of made-up whimsical characters and words to describe them, I see that sweet gray elephant with the ball of fluff in his snout and I am suddenly reminded of that lesson that Horton taught me so many years ago. Be a voice. Dr. Seuss’s Who’s were on the brink of destruction and all hope seemed to have been lost as the people in the most peril could not be heard.  Then at the last minute, the one little boy who was scrolling facebook and listening to Spotify finally chimes in with a great big YAWP and the community is saved.

At a time when lives are in danger just because you have the “wrong” skin color; where rights are being stripped because you have the “wrong” parts; where children have lockdown drills; where two dozen vets commit suicide each day, we are a community in peril. And there are voices out there who are speaking up for the disenfranchised, but we aren’t loud enough yet. We need more people speaking up, especially as we go into the 2020 election year. I know I have a small but loyal following, and my voice is wee compared to those on the national stage. But this is me, Just Destiny, hoping to effect change by chiming in with a resounding YAWP!

Seven Sentences for Sunday: The Kids Chime In Edition

  1. I broke my New Year’s resolution and missed 2 weeks of SSFS. I am not to be deterred, however, and am picking up where I left off.
  2. The kids have decided to help me with this week’s SSFS, which eases the burden of coming back from a break.
  3. Sometimes a waffle is just a holy pancake—-Jolie, philosophically.
  4. This game is bullcrap!—Paisley upon realizing she had Zero pie pieces to my and Jolie’s 5 a piece in Trivial Pursuit Family Edition.
  5. Isn’t Kenya a singer?—Paisley, confusing Enya with the Geography question.
  6. Keemstar is weird.—My strange little boy Rhett’s contribution to the list.
  7. And we’ll end with another Paisley-ism. “Mom–notice anything different about me?” as she presented herself before me after a trip to the bathroom. I scanned for any trace of makeup or perfume and then said, “Give me a hint.” She said, “Nothing is different. I just wanted to trick ya.” So there.

I love you all, some more than others.

Seven Sentences for Sunday: The Pushing It Edition

  1. I wish I had a camera fixed on Adam when Roman Reigns was called at #30 for the Royal Rumble. He was a 5 year old boy with arms crossed and pouting as if he had just been told he had to finish his brussels sprouts before getting his dessert.
  2. We are at the beginning of week 3 of DDPYoga and I am down 5 lbs. I’m aiming for 8 more lbs before our next official weigh-in on February 23. I can do it!
  3. Adam’s birthday is on Thursday–he hit’s the big 39, just 4 months behind me. And Jolie picked out the coolest present for him that is right up his alley–I can’t wait.
  4. One of our boy cats, Bernie, has a little stuffed monkey that he plays with and leaves for us to find in random places. The other day we came home after a particularly long day out and found it smack in the middle of Adam’s side of the bed. He must’ve known it’s Adam’s birthday week.
  5. There’s a market called Fresh Thyme not too far from our house and they have the absolute best yogurt with the cream on the top like they have in Europe. Spooning off that creamy goodness completely makes my day.
  6. I took the kids to see Hidden Figures and Rhett was struck by the fact that not only were African Americans treated poorly, but so were the women. Paisley chimed in and said she thought they should have had a girlcott instead of a boycott. Sweet children’s minds….
  7. I really want to see LaLa Land. I might have to take myself to the movies in the next week or so so Adam doesn’t have to be subjected to a musical.

I love you all, some more than others.

Seven Sentences for Sunday: The Blank Space Edition

  1. I might have to make this Seven Sentences for Monday since that seems to be the only day I remember to do them.
  2. I am really regretting not taking the kids to the women’s march in Cincinnati on Saturday–I think witnessing and taking part in a peaceful protest would have been good for them, and me. Alas, I played chauffeur for Jolie and a friend to the movies instead. Missed opportunities.
  3. Adam and I took “before” pictures and measurements today for DDP Yoga. It’s ridiculous how inflexible I am. I am looking forward to seeing my progress after a month.
  4. I have had Fitz and the Tantrums’ “Roll Up” looping in my head–it’s a ridiculously fun song but I know exactly none of the words, which makes it difficult to sing along.
  5. While selling Girl Scout cookies with Paisley yesterday an approximately 95 year old man answered the door wearing an adult diaper and a robe that was completely open. After we left (he didn’t buy anything) Paisley looked at me and said, “Mom, I think I’m scarred for life.” I don’t blame her.
  6. Aziz Ansari was amazing on SNL. His monologue was on point and his acting in the sketches was awesome. I’m looking forward to Master of None coming back to Netflix.
  7. After selling cookies in 63 degree weather on Sunday, I am ready for spring. So is Paisley as she skipped along the sidewalk singing, “I am ready for spring….” Alas, the weather calls for 30 degree temperatures over the next week, so we are still in winter mode for a while. Boo.

I love you all, some more than others.

Seven Sentences for Sunday: The Here We Go Again Edition

  1. Adam and I gifted ourselves with the DDP Yoga workout package–we did the first instructional this morning and are pouring with sweat.
  2. DDP has so many success stories from people who have changed their lives, we can’t help but be inspired. If that 500 lb man can drop 315 lbs and touch his nose to his knees, then I can no longer use my medicines as an excuse for my extra pudge.
  3. How do you get your child to stop asking for stuff? I think Rhett asks for stuff just to ask for it–he certainly doesn’t need it. He got a hand sanitizer and a body spray and Bath and Body Works just because his sisters had gift cards and got something for themselves–he didn’t want to be left out. And not 10 minutes later he asked for a new book from Barnes and Noble. Sometimes it seems like it’s never enough.
  4. Following up on #3, I have grateful kids who appreciate what they have, but it doesn’t hold their attention long. Drives me crazy.
  5. Jolie is no longer allowed to hang out with one of her best friends because her friend’s parents are afraid that Jolie is going to turn her gay. I never thought Jolie’s open mindedness and self-proclaimed pansexuality would be used against her in this day and age—so disappointed in other people.
  6. Paisley knows the difference between figuratively and literally and how to use them correctly. I am so proud of her–and impressed with the Language Arts program at her school.
  7. The bright side of the new medicine? I’m not tired all the time and don’t require 11-12 hours of sleep at night. I can now get by on 9-10–which seems like bragging to some people, but I can still do a lot with my day if I’m up by 9:30 instead of 11:30. Hooray for small victories.

I love you all, some more than others.