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If Huffington Post, and Mad Magazine had a baby it would be Lefty Pop…

and they asked me to throw some words at them from time to time.

Fair warning…while I try to maintain an air of civility and balance here on Mrs Metaphor (picture me drinking tea with pinkie raised) I cannot promise it won’t go all “Animal House” over there from time to time. That’s part of its charm, I think.


Hope you’ll check it out, jump into the fray, get yer pop and politics fix…


all you need…

“and now I will show you the most excellent way…”

I meant to tell you all this earlier. When I was in the shower today I figured it all out. I mean I really got it all completely figured out, the world, the troubles, everything. I know the answer. I started to write it down but the phone rang and then the doorbell rang and of course there was a fascinating discussion on Twitter about feminism and rape culture so I got sidelined on that a little while. Later, I thought more about my grand revelation, the one that came to me in the hot spray of a rushed shower and I began to write some notes. I only got a few words into it when I stopped, because it’s too simple, far too simple and far too difficult.


It’s only love.

That’s all. It’s the answer, the full and complete answer to life, to death, to war, to everything. And I thought as I began to type these words about all the responses, about it being naive and simple and unrealistic. And frankly, that’s a¬†kind of sad thing to believe. It’s a¬†sad thing to think that love cannot overcome the worst of life because in a way, if it can’t then what exactly is the point? I thought too, you know, that really, the business of religion ought to be love, real and concrete love, without strings, without fail. It ought to be about love. That is what seems to unite all the world’s religions, the one question they all seek to answer being “how then do we love one another?” Too often religion gets sidelined by something other than love, by power or control, by judgement and fear and anger. The answer to that is love. Too often politics gets sidelined with something than care of its people, by power or control, by judgement and fear and anger. The answer to that, also, is love. Too often I get sidelined, I get distracted, I get confused and disoriented by power or control or judgement and anger and I find, more and more, the compass I need gets buried under the pile of things I ought to do, have to do, should have done. But really, on the simplest level, if all I say and do is oriented according to that crazy compass where Love is magnetic North, well, I have to think my life would feel different, look different, be different. If I make decisions based in love, real love, full on agape, where is the loss in that? Certainly, it won’t keep any of us from injury, because love requires sacrifice, vulnerability, risk. Power and Control offer sexy lines about avoiding the mess of vulnerability, exerting dominion over that pesky thing called risk, circumventing the sacrifice. It sounds ideal.

And of course it would-

-which is why we choose it over love so frequently.

So the Beatles almost got it right. Love isn’t really all we need but based on how the world is moving these days, I’d say that it is certainly ought to be back at the top of the list. ¬†That’s what I’m thinking, anyway.

the common denominator…

He sat at the kitchen table, head in hands, moaning. Even as a very young child, Chet always reacted to stressful moments of “I have no idea” in this same way. From across the room I called out cautiously, “Everything ok? You need help?” He lifted his head, his big almond eyes cresting with tears but his voice angry, “Yes. I hate this. I don’t know how to do this.”

Chet’s only been in a “real” school for a couple of months and inevitably he’s encountering concepts we had not covered in homeschooling or concepts we covered and he didn’t really imbibe. In any case, his frustration was clear. I admit, I was reluctant to jump in too quickly. Math was never something I was able to imbibe with any consistency. My brain just didn’t drink it in, oil and water…I wasn’t sure I’d be of much help.

When I looked at his paper I saw that he had completed a good portion of the problems but the “puzzle” he was meant to solve with the answers made no sense. His approach was off. He had to erase it all and start again. This news was greeted with renewed moaning, his head returning to his hands.

“You have to start with the greatest common denominator,” I said, “you have to figure out where these two guys meet, where they intersect, what they have in common. It’s like right now they don’t speak the same language.” I pointed to the fractions, stunned, frankly, that I even remembered how to add them at all. “They’re Republicans and Democrats trying to have a conversation about policy or freedom or social programming. They can’t even come together to figure out what they have together until they know what they have in common. See?”

I’d like to say at this point that perhaps he looked up at me with a wide, innocent 12 year old gaze of admiration, a moment of recognition, of “getting it” on several deep levels all at once but that’d be overstating it. What really happened is that he nodded, picked up his eraser and began the messy process of beginning again. “I think I remember this a little” he said with some reluctant resilience. I leaned over his shoulder and watched for a minute or two while he worked, blowing away the random bits of graphite and rubber eraser from his page, noticing the traces left on the page of past mistakes, making room for new attempts, for the pursuit of the common denominator.

What’s a girl to do?

I have been so world weary lately. Elections and legislation fights, mudslinging, celebrity sightings, political gossip and pollution, the war on women, what’s a girl to do?

I’ve always thought that the operative word was “do.” What can I do? What will my elected officials do? What will Snookie do?

And I keep coming back to how little power or control any of us really have. The concentration of power resides in large oceans owned by a very few. We may dip our toes in once in a while but for the most part the little people in this world are lucky to have a pond or a puddle they call their own. We influence perhaps locally but what can we do in the bigger picture anyway?

No wonder so many of us just give up and abdicate our power. No wonder some of us don’t even try to find that ocean, don’t even try to dip our foot in that pool. No wonder so many of us eat fast food every day and make ourselves content to breathe polluted air and shake our heads at the death and destruction in the rest of the world and pray late at night it does not reach its hand out to pull us in as well. What is the point in trying?

What’s a girl to do?

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to meet a couple of young girls. One was around 8 and the other was in her early 20’s. I had two conversations with each of those girls. By way of back story I’ll tell you that for the last two months or so I’ve been trying to curb my “know it all” tendencies. Nobody likes a know it all, especially me. So, in conversations both online and offline I’m working on listening more and talking less. I’m having mixed results with that but I thought I was getting the hang of it here and there. It’s tough to be a recovering know it all. But the conversations with these girls though went differently. I listened and I heard their stories. I asked more questions and genuinely marveled at their responses. And then, I found myself talking. I found myself talking about power and about strength. I found myself encouraging them to find their way. I found myself telling them about strong women I have known and about strong women I have read or watched. I asked them to do the same, to revel in the fact that they are women, that they are mystery and wonder, that they are more than the fairer sex. When the conversations were done, we were all still smiling and I took that as a good sign. It was hopeful, at least it was hopeful to me.

What’s a girl to do?

A girl is to be loved and honored as equal because she is lovable and honorable and because she is equal. She is not a percentage of a person. She should not be treated that way. A girl is to be encouraged to be strong without injecting fear that she’ll be discarded because of it. A girl is to be considered dangerous rather than fragile, because women are dangerous, because women are powerful. We are a force of nature and our time is coming now.

World weary or not, I figure I need to put on the long lens here. That’s the best I can come up with in the face of elections and legislation fights, mudslinging, celebrity sightings, political gossip and pollution and the war on women. What’s a girl to do? As much as I fully believe we need to sit in the present, to continue to voice our opinions, to continue to move toward the oceans of power owned by the smallest population of the mighty I believe too that the real hope lies in paying close attention to the people we’re raising now, especially the girls among us. It’s not an “either or” it is a “yes, and” plan.

Do your part, vote your conscience, voice your opinion in places it matters most, march when possible, do your homework, open your mind, listen to your neighbor…and encourage those young and wise women among us. Encourage them to know and engage the world around them as if they are equal, as if they are valuable, as if they are the future of us all because they are.

The world depends on what that girl will do.

good government…

Warning: political rant with no redemptive, insightful ending in sight…no call to action…no potential solution. Proceed with caution.


You can’t beat crazy. You just can’t. Crazy will make the news every single time. Crazy will trump truth and facts and all kinds of things. You can’t beat crazy.

All sides of the political reality show we call the 2012 elections do it. They look for the crazy. They look for the worst case scenario. They look for the guy who preaches hate and bile on youtube. They look for the little known fact and past girlfriends and then they advertise the hell out of it.

It’s not a new tactic. My daughter tells me that in her American History studies this year she’s run across tactics like this in elections from nearly the start of our teenager nation. We did this in the cradle; mud slinging, crazy making.

When my boys fight it makes me mental. They fight over everything.


They fight over half eaten biscuits and scraps of paper. They fight over who sits in the front seat of the car. They fight over who gets to tell me the funny story they all just heard on television. When the cacophony gets too loud I leave the room. When the cacophony follows me no matter where I go and there is no escape I send them all to timeout.

Three couches. Three boys. Three butts. No talking.

I’d like to send the candidates to time out. I’d like to send the media to time out. I know I’m not alone in my weary of the world of politics. It’s too easy to just throw my hands up with “They’re all like this! What’s the use of trying?” It’s a little too easy and a lot ineffective.

Mark Twain once said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” This, friends, is what drives that search for the crazy. The wild and weird makes the news where politics is concerned because it’s a fast runner and we like action. We’d much rather whisper about the scandal. We’d much rather hear about the wacky pastors and the KKK and the mysterious birth certificate than fiscal behaviors and civil rights voting histories. The crazy makes for good television. You know what it doesn’t make?

Good government.

*end rant*


love and marriage and legislation…

It is not long ago that large numbers of people in our country viewed people of color as “less than” human, less than white humans at the very least. It is in our recent past not our ancient history. It is even more recent that the idea of a black person marrying a white person was not only unsavory but in many places it was illegal. When I tell this to my children they are puzzled and they ask me “why.” I always find I’m a little stumped at that. I don’t have the long answer about cultural shifts and attitudes and misread narratives. All I seem to be able to find is the word, “fear.” ¬†I tell them that people were afraid. I tell them that we are always afraid of the “other.” ¬†Anyone different from how we perceive ourselves can seem a threat. Anyone who presents a different way of understanding the world, a different narrative, this scares us and we begin to question our own beliefs.

In the face of that we have two choices. We can be accepting and loving, possibly risking losing the sense of who we are altogether or we can shut down, take power, exert ourselves over the “other” and seemingly lock down our sense of self, which of course, leads exactly to the place we fear the most, losing the sense of who we are.

Is it as simple as that? Is it as simple as “fear?” Perhaps not. I’m sure many a PhD out there has studied this and written books and scholarly papers. There are cultural factors and economic conditions and charismatic people who lead the fearful into places they never thought they’d go. For slavery to have lasted in this country as long as it did and for attitudes and tensions to still exist, still seething¬†under the surface, on the surface, above the surface, I have to confess my limited understanding of the human race.

North Carolina became the 30th state in the country to approve a constitutional amendment (at the state level) which defines marriage as strictly between one man and one woman. The selling point on the bill for a number of voting people in North Carolina is that it would make same-sex marriage (already illegal in North Carolina) finally out of the question. The fight over the bill became religious right versus the LGBT rights. It’s a simple fight then, at least as far as the Press was concerned; It is a struggle between those who want the right to marry the person they choose and those who view their choice as inherently wrong.

Unfortunately, it’s not a simple fight between individuals or even groups of individuals. There are powers at play and shifting dynamics.¬†¬†There are cultural factors and economic conditions and charismatic people who lead the fearful into places they never thought they’d go.

It is not only the religious right that is fearful, make no mistake. We are all led into places we never thought we’d go. In this digital age it’s easier than ever to express our doubts and our judgements and our opinion just about anyplace sporting a comment box. We jump to conclusions, we say hateful things and make broad generalizations on both sides of the political aisle. I’ve read too many dismissive comments about North Carolina today around this, comments about low intelligence and cousin marriage and fundamentalist Christians, ¬†comments that as a friend pointed out, we did not hear when California passed Prop 8.

Today is a good day then to take a step back and reflect a little. Today is a good day to lay off the comment key, no matter how you feel about the passing of Amendment One. At the very least, give a little pause before pressing “send.”

For the people who voted “yes” to Amendment One and who support this type of legislation I’d ask that you consider the greater implications of the bill that has just passed, about the effect it will have on all civil unions in your state, the effect it will have on people who are in abusive (but not legally married) situations, about the children of those people. I’d ask you to check into how this ban has effected the other 29 states, especially Ohio, who carry similar amendments. There was not a great deal of press about this part of the newly minted bill. It’s too late to change your vote but it’s never too late to open your mind wider and see a bigger picture going forward.

For those of us who profess to follow faith traditions, whether we judge homosexual relationships to be “natural” or not, it’s probably wise for us to find our sense of self rooted then in our narrative regardless of what the state legislates. Laws cannot make us better people or better Christians or better humans. Laws are meant to help us to be better citizens in my estimation. Asking ourselves going forward, “what will this law do?” is not questioning our faith, it is being a good citizen of a diverse nation.

For the population of people who hope for marriage equality, there should be room for disappointment and anger. Many people worked hard to stem the tide of press on this issue. The bigger question before you today however is not how do we tear down the people whose belief system and attitudes led them to vote “yes” but rather, how do we go forward productively and with integrity? What is the next step in this quest for equality?

Do or do not…there is no try

I’m tired. All the time.

Certainly it has something to do with parenting four rather “spirited” children or our move back to Chicago this past year or the strange and untethered nature of our homeschool life, those things would¬†make anyone tired. All the time.

There’s something else though, something more external, I think. I know it’s something else because some days I have the strongest inclination to pick up my family and shipwreck us all on an island far, far away. The world is a hot mess and I’m tired. All the time.

This is why I stopped watching the news. In reality, no one really “watches the news” anymore because “the news” isn’t reported anymore, anywhere. What’s reported is “here’s what happened and here’s how you ought to feel about it” which invariably leads us up and down the roller coaster of emotion for as long as the image lasts on the screen.

I’ll read news stories online still. I haven’t given that up yet. But to be a responsible citizen in my opinion means reading more than one “outlet” of any news event, particularly if it is a political one. It’s responsible because the “where do I place my moral outrage” button is an easy one for any news source to press these days. It’s not about cover ups or the labels of Liberal or Conservative anymore. It’s about manipulation and all sides use it.

We’re human. This is how we’re wired.

Because we’re made for relationship, we’re easy to manipulate. We want to understand, at least for as much as it affects our own family, our own job, our own bottom line. We ought to want to “feel” one way or another about a news event. It is what fuels our capacity for compassion. It is what allows us to leave our selves for a few minutes and be a part of the bigger picture, a fully sanctioned member of the world at large.

It’s exhausting then, to be a pawn in the game played by all traditional media. There is no Liberal media and no Conservative media. There is just the glut of information purveyors, peddling reality TV and calling it “news.” ¬†When we’re thirsty we’re given to drink from the stream of sitcom and 60 minutes. When we’re hungry the meat comes mixed from Jersey Shore and Politico. The air we breathe is the Oprah proton peppered with Fox News electrons. We live these crazy lives of 24/7 information overload and I’m beginning to wonder if that’s something that contributes to our rising need for anti-depressants and alcohol.

It isn’t only the cornucopia of “things to know” which pushes us into the zombie like malaise but rather “what should I fear today?” How much more likely is it that I’ll die early if I eat this Ho-Ho. How much scarier is Iran than I ever suspected? How short and fruitful was the life of the unarmed teen gunned down in Florida? What’s the government doing to screw you over and why should you care?

“What is happening and how should I feel about it?”

It’s easy to feel. It’s a lot easier to feel than to “do.” ¬†We keep that moral outrage button hard-wired into our laptop keys and our remote controls. It is the smudged ink on our fingertips from holding the newspaper too tightly, it is the rising fear ¬†and anger we feel in our heart and our throat and our head when we conclude that we are, ultimately, without power.

How many of us, after having our buttons pushed will actually get up and do something about it rather than open a new page in our browser to complain to the editor or write a blog post or comment on a new article and call it a day? Is that a “do?” I’m not sure.

What strikes me then is that those who actually do something, the people who get up and protest and sit in and occupy, those people are derided. Whether they are Tea Party activists or Occupy Wall Street protesters, these are the people we read about and judge the harshest. While I don’t care much for Tea Party politics I have to say at the very least I admire they’re dedication to “doing something.” They show up, I don’t. I admit that. I don’t show up anywhere. I might write about it, as I’m doing now but truly, after all, what is this more than words on a page meant to ¬†purge my own demons, to assuage my own troubled conscience?

A couple of weeks ago my 9-year-old stumbled across the Kony 2012 video. He watched most of the video before I discovered he’d found it. Since that time every day when we’re out and about he questions me about Kony. “Can he get to Chicago?” “Will I be forced to be a soldier by him?” “Does the army know about Kony?” ¬†He’s afraid but he’s not only afraid. His next set of questions center around “what can I do about this?” ¬†“how can I help?” Specifically he asked if he can help put up flyers about Kony when they come to Chicago. He asks if he can help make the flyers. He asks if there will be a rally or a march about it. He wants to “do something” rather than simply “be afraid.” ¬†As horrified as I’d been about him seeing that video at the tender age of 9 I am also thankful that his response is action and not only emotion. It’s encouraging and it’s inspiring. He was as emotionally manipulated by the video as any adult but his impulse was to “do” and I’m thankful for that.

I think it was Yoda who said, “Do or do not, there is no try.” My 9-year-old has the benefit of that wisdom. I wish I knew what it meant for myself and the other grown ups in my relational circles apart from picking up and moving us all to the desert island far far away. ¬†I’d say I’ll “try” to work on that next but there is no try, there is only do.

Waiting for the ships to land…

There are days I just wish the extra terrestrials would land and take over or that the evil robot overlords would finally move out from behind their clever disguises. Those appliances lining my kitchen counter are just biding their time, I know it. How long before they become sentient and just start rooting through my things while I sleep?

There are some days when being ruled by a giant toaster sounds pretty good, I admit. Generally I feel this way after a week of political debates or theological arguments. Suffice it to say, this being an election year and weird American commercial theology being what it is, I’m looking a little more carefully at my toaster these days.

Arguing politics and theology wears me out or maybe it just bores me. I’m no rocket scientist but I think I do alright where cogent discussion is concerned. I can follow a stream of conversation, I can add in my own understanding of things. I confess, I’d rather buy the golden rule than buy gold even knowing it’s possible it’ll come back and bite me on the ass later. Maybe I’m a sucker for hoping that the good in people will win out eventually.

I’m posting today because honestly I don’t know how I’m going to last out this election cycle. Between the graphs about who is responsible for the US Debt and the fake email warnings about the president being a secret Muslim and the passive aggressive tweets or FB statuses about the State of the Union address or the state of the church in America I just don’t know how to maintain the “peaceful” and “loving” attitude I’ve hoped to muster in times like this.

The best solution I can consider is to go into a cave somewhere absent all forms of communication and wait it out. Some of my less techie friends think this is an awesome solution for me. They already believe I’m over-loaded electronically and they’re not wrong. That’s why I keep them around. Sometimes I actually listen to them. Sometimes.

It’s a crazy thing, waiting for the aliens to land.

My older brother used to scare me with stories about aliens, sneaking into our window in the middle of the night. He’d say they were gathering information on us, that we wouldn’t even know they had come except for maybe a blurry memory or a strange dream or a bruise a day or so later we don’t remember getting. I slept with my head under the covers for longer than I care to admit. I wasn’t afraid that they were coming to take over the world. I was afraid only for myself and maybe for my sister who shared the room with me. Then again, I didn’t know much about the world then. When I was a kid the big world outside my own neighborhood was not even on my radar. Why would it be?

The news of the world is hard on grown ups. Being a grown up is hard on grown ups. And I’m tired. I mediate fights all day long between my children, it’s exhausting. I don’t want to watch Congress act the way my children do when they are fighting over pie or television or which cartoon hero is better. What leads me into depression around these conversations is that EVERYONE THINKS THEY ARE RIGHT. No one is willing to consider the other view. Have you ever tried to mediate an argument in which everyone thinks they are right and there is no convincing the other party to consider shifting their position? Cherry pie lovers are notoriously unmovable where lemon meringue is concerned. It’s fruitless.

The bottom line here is that I am sick of swimming through the bullshit of modern politics and american cultural weirdness and I don’t see that changing in my lifetime. It’s depressing. That’s defeatist, I know. Sorry about that. If I held to my belief system I suppose I’d pull myself out of that and join Occupy Wall Street or make a stand of some kind against the wall of overwhelming before me. I’d take action. Maybe. But I’m tired.

It’s easier to hope that my toaster comes to life.

big but…or…what not to say in political discussions…

A friend posted this the other day. It’s a rather compelling explanation of Occupy Wall Street….and it’s also an opportunity for PJ O’Rourke to make fun of that explanation. Family fun for everyone.

Whether you agree with Mr Grayson or not I’d like to ask you to watch the video because it stirred in me an old familiar rant which I will gladly detail below.

This is my number one issue with discussions of this ilk, political, religious or otherwise. PJ O’Rourke’s response after Mr Grayson outlines his understanding of Occupy Wall Street was to make a joke about hippies. I guess one could say that being on Bill Maher’s show means that they are supposed to make jokes. I get that. This isn’t Meet the Press.

The problem here is that he’s not making a funny or clever joke. He’s not giving a witty comeback. He’s not expressing some interesting slant in a clever way. He’s just grasping at unfunny straws here. I’m all for making smart and clever replies to an opposing viewpoint. I’m not for simply making fun or calling names without having any kind of real point.

Mr O’Rourke’s response tells me that he doesn’t know what to say so he’s just going to try to shoot for the lowest level. He’s dismissive. He chooses, rather than engaging the point, to draws a picture of the Occupy Wall Street protesters as hippies who don’t care where they go to the bathroom. Really, PJ? That’s what you came up with?

You see, while I happen to agree with Mr Grayson on this I’m also willing to hear a counter argument. I’m willing to have some clever banter from the other side and I’m willing to hear a retort that gives me, as a viewer, more information for the discussion.

Responses like the one Mr O’Rourke gave just stop the conversation, they stop the engagement and this is a problem.

To his great credit Alan Grayson didn’t let that comment end the conversation. He answered not with a humorous jibe but with real passion. I admire that. Apparently the audience admired it too. What they don’t show in this clip is the standing ovation that came when he finished. So maybe this is where it is supposed to end, at a convenient commercial break. Maybe what he said is just the be all end all truth. I’m willing to consider that…and yet…I think I know from experience that a soundbite from a television show on a topic with such emotional cost can never be all-encompassing. Soundbites aren’t enough.

The reality is that we have a highly divided country on pretty much every single level. No one is going to sign on blindly to a sound bite. The only line it’d be possible for us all to agree on might be something like:

“We all want to live and live as well as possible.”

And frankly, that might even need engagement and discussion. As Pee Wee Herman says, “everyone I know has a big but…” We might all sign on to the statement above although I’d wager we could each offer up a big but-

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want to pay higher taxes for it”

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want a republican president”

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want national healthcare ”

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want prayer in school”

Your big but and my big but are the reason we need to be able to have discussions and engagement. We need to be able to say, “yes, I hear you but I have an issue with this piece or that piece” and that cannot happen if your response to my articulated argument is to just tear me down by calling me names.

This is particularly fresh to me because I had a political discussion recently and after making a point my conversation partner said, “Well, you are such a good little Obamaite.” I don’t even know what that means. I’m pretty sure it’s not a compliment my friend was offering. It’s dismissive. It says, “Nothing you have said has any value to me” and it ended our conversation. I want to be heard and I’ll go out on a limb to say that you want to be heard too. I’m not asking you to leave your opinion by the wayside and come to my way of thinking, I’m just asking to be respected in our conversation. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask. If your argument is sound and you’re confident you can articulate it then there is no reason to tear down the other.

The bottom line here is that calling people names doesn’t make your point Mr O’Rourke, and it doesn’t make you funny. It just makes me stop listening to you.

That’s all I’m saying.


When I’m stressed out or keyed up I vacuum. It’s relaxing, it’s my happy place. I don’t know if it’s the whirring hum of the vacuum cleaner or the idea that I am restoring some order to the chaos but I can tell you I come up with most of my best word choices when I’m vacuuming. So I wrote this poem, for our poetry tuesday, while under the influence of the vacuum cleaner. It has nothing to do with vacuuming.

It’s a departure from my other poems and honestly, I think it comes from all the social media political arguments I’ve witnessed lately – this idea that we can hurt each other so easily now, over the interwebs, without ever seeing each other’s faces. It’s disturbing that we can be hateful so easily, so long distance. It bothers me.

Anyway, that’s the backstory…if there’s a backstory.

Hope it conjures something good, true and beautiful in you today-



I should be afraid of you
because you can hurt me
concealed weapon
open carry
doesn’t matter
knife, gun
brick, hammer
truth, lie
doesn’t matter
I should be afraid-
my own
limited arsenal
not enough 
to counter 
your attack,
your retreat
doesn’t matter
both bring injury
near fatal wounding
we should both 
be a little

©ADC 2011