Swinging Doors & Stuff

1. The doors to my unit at the hospital swing in opposite directions. Whether you're coming in or out, you have to push on the right side (your right, just like driving!) door. For some reason, about 80% of people choose the wrong door on their first (and sometimes every) try. Adults invariably push the left door, look stunned when it doesn't open, and then  keep pushing on it until somebody (me) says "use the other door." (Older men hate it when I say that and stomp around a bit before exiting. No clue why.) I have no idea what they think the problem with the door might be. I'm curious to see how long the exercise would go on, but I'm pretty sure I'd get in trouble if I didn't redirect them reasonably quickly. Children (usually under the age of 11), on the other hand, try the wrong door too, but when it doesn't work they, without missing a beat, go through the correct one. It's never a struggle for them to just try the other door.

I think there's probably a life lesson in there somewhere, but I'm not entirely sure what it might be.

2. The gigantic (plastic, ew!) Jesus statue in Ohio got struck by lightning and burned to the ground. The church's insurance company has refused to pay for the damage, calling it an "act of God." That might be my favorite news story of all time. The irony is just beautiful. Also, hello, if you're going to have a giant Jesus, go with natural materials. God doesn't like tacky (apparently). On a related note, (and this is old news, just new to me) while filming The Passion of the Christ, Jim Caviezel also got struck by lightning. Maybe God's just tired of people making Jesus look like a white guy.

3. I'm leaving on Friday for vacation in San Antonio (Whee!!). There will be water parks, and river walks and the Alamo, oh my! Also good friends, amazing food, and at least one day at the Mexican Heritage Market, which I love. I'll come home with pictures.

In Defense of Helen Thomas

I've been very upset about the whole Helen Thomas "scandal," but didn't have a moment to blog about it until now. I should probably start with a disclaimer:

1. I am not antisemitic. I don't have a problem with Jewish people. I think they have a very interesting, wonderful history and are generally fun, educated, tolerant people. Yay Jews!

2. I am anit-Israel. I don't think it's ok for outside governments to tell a country "we're taking this chunk of your land away because god said that the Jews could have it.

3. The whole concept of a holy land is ridiculous. First of all, if god was going to give his "chosen people" something like that, why would he choose a dirt strip where nothing grows and your worst enemies have been for thousands of years? Poor planning.

Now, on to Helen Thomas.On May 27, 2010, outside the Jewish Heritage Celebration Day event at the White House, the following exchange took place between Thomas and Rabbi David Nesenoff:
Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We're asking everybody today, any comments on Israel? Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.
Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?
Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not German, it's not Poland ...
Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?
Thomas: They go home.
Nesenoff: Where's the home?
Thomas: Poland. Germany.
Nesenoff: So you're saying the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?
Thomas: And America and everywhere else. (emphasis mine) Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries? See?
 There was a big stink following this interaction, and Helen Thomas was forced to resign in shame. For saying something that isn't only TRUE, it's not scandalous at all!! Palestine -is- occupied! The people doing the occupation -are- largely from Poland and Germany and the US! The allegations are that by saying Germany and Poland, Thomas implied something about concentration camps. That just leaves a big fat question mark over my head. She didn't say anything wrong. And yeah, her retirement was probably well overdue, but her long career shouldn't be marked by something like this. Particularly because she was right.

Saying that Israel is a valid country is like saying that if Mexico showed up, took over the Texas panhandle and said "this is Mexico now" we'd say that's perfectly acceptable. There was a huge war over this. "Remember the Alamo" anyone? I'm angry that nobody took a second to think about her comments logically, and mad that saying that if you don't support Israel in this country is a death sentence politically and socially and the whole thing just makes me sick.


Not a Fish Tale

Well before Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid thrilled little girls the world over, I wanted to be a mermaid. Some of my earliest memories involve my cousin, Jenny, and I tying our legs together and writhing around on my grandmother’s kitchen floor, otherwise known as “under the sea.” Later, my girlfriends and I spent our time in the pool hanging onto other friends or, occasionally, my dad, pretending that they were our dolphins, and we, of course, were lovely mermaids. One of the most disappointing moments of my childhood was when my father (or more likely, my mother) refused to purchase the seashell necklace for me that would surely give authenticity to my play. I can’t even enter that store without remembering the pendant and wondering if the $2 that it cost was really worth the grief that it instilled in 6 year old Susan.

Twenty-something years later, I’m still (in spite of a near-paralyzing fear of fish and all things aquatic) a big fan of mermaid tales, favoring Hans Christian Andersen’s lovely, tragic version above all others (Disney will do in a pinch). My favorite part of the story has always been the moment that the mermaid becomes fully human. I love the first seconds of realizing her heart’s desire, no matter what the outcome might be (good for Disney’s Ariel, bad for HCA’s unnamed heroine). In that moment, all the mermaid’s wishes have come true. I can only imagine the sense of fear and elation that she must feel. I want that feeling. I want to know what it feels like, taking a deep breath and diving headfirst into the life that I’ve dreamed of, hoping for a good outcome, but not afraid of a bad one. John Burroughs said “leap and the net will appear.” I hope he was right.

It may take some time, but changes are coming.