Archive for October, 2008

Today …

Today I …

Talked to my husband about the future, and actually felt hopeful.

Walked in the cold morning air, and felt really, really alive.

Bumped into two friends at the grocery, and relished in the conversation that spontaneously ensued.

Created a stew that was warm, satisfying, and just this side of “gourmet”!

Ate lunch with my husband and his friends, and enjoyed the conversation.

Played “piddidle” with my daughter as we shared a warm drink and laughed.

Sit in my relatively “warm” house, writing my blog, listening to my younger children play and laugh together, and knowing tomorrow’s another day.


Questions of the day…

RE:  The Bible

If one considers the Bible as the “inerrant word of God” (which most major, main-line denominations will state in their doctrine), why does it seem that Christians take the word lightly — paraphrasing it to the advantage of making “points” in discussions and teaching — yet the same people will quickly state to someone else they are “right” or “wrong” in their interpretation?

If the Bible is available to all people — “he who has ears, let him hear” — why do we feel like we need other people to interpret it for us?

If someone believes the Holy Spirit is capable of helping them understand the Bible, and earnestly seek out God through this document, why do other “Christians” feel the need to “set them straight” according to the second person’s “interpretation and understanding”?

Why do Christians hold onto interpretations that are hundreds of years old, while simultaneously claiming the “word of God” is alive and relevant to whatever is happening today?

Why do Christians use the Bible to prove a point and be right, when it was supposedly given as a way for us to know God — not to prove a point?

Just asking …

Fear, Fear, Fear …

OK, here’s some of the “stuff” I’ve been hearing …

Barak Obama is either (a) a Kenyan national or (b) and Indonesian national (and Muslim, apparently, because his father — Barak was 5 at the time — wrote that down on his school registration), (c) had dual citizenship and now (d) was really never born in Hawaii — but on a little island off the coast of Kenya in a hospital with no records to “prove” it but his Kenyan grandmother insists he was “born here.”

Now, if any of these claims are true, our country is much more stupid than anyone can imagine.  Could a man become a senator and run for president without being a citizen?  And no one in the government, the IRS, the Immigration department — none of these people knew?  But some “smart” blogger (who is apparently getting his 15 minutes) is more intelligent than the American government and all our institutions?  Gee, let this guy run for president.

Why aren’t we hearing things about Mr. McCain?  If you want to, check out this video: .

Now, you could dismiss this as being “Rolling Stone.”  But are you saying that CNN, FOX or any of the major networks are any more reliable?  These things are just as well documented as the Internet claims made against Mr. Obama.  But do you hear them spread out and talked about like they are “issues” in the election?  What is the fear that is driving people so fervently in this election?

Or, how about this sentiment that I keep hearing (especially in “Christian” circles).  The fear the, if Mr. Obama is elected, he’ll “open the doors” for our country to become Muslim, or Muslim-friendly, or whatever.  OK, let’s look at this.  If you know anything about our constitution, we are already a country that allows “freedom of religion.”  Many of the countries and people Americans “fear” are people belonging to countries that enforce a “one religion” belief system.  And somehow, you believe that forcing everyone to be “Christian” would be better?  Boy, I’ve never read that in the Bible….

 I believe the reason people are “so afraid” is that they have allowed the terrorist to win.  Somehow, we have this misconception that American is a “Christian” country (would you agree or disagree that much of the constitution bendind done over the last eight years is very “Christ-like”?)  

Somehow we have this thought that every president should be a middle-aged (or older) white male who is, at least, nominally connected to a Judeo-Christian worldview.  That’s the only “type” of person who can run this country?  Hmmm … wouldn’t you agree that this “type” of person has allowed our country to be where it is right now?  All the CEO’s that are now enjoying millions at the expense of all of us … all the stockbrokers who’s portfolios are OK, while we reel and wonder about retirement … all the men who decided to send some of our brightest and best young men and women to fight on foreign soil for — why again? — are this “type” of men, right?

Generalizations are often wrong.  And the ones I made in the previous paragraph are not correct “across the board.”  I could use the same argument that that “type” of man has made great strides in science, or philanthropy, or whatever.  So what is the fear that keeps us talking about these silly things?

You can’t have it both ways.  Either this country and its people are smart enough to figure out who can and can’t run for president, or we’re idiots that should be overrun.  Either we believe that there are forces “greater” than the United States government, and this election is important, but not the end of the world, or we give ourselves over to fear.  When a person is motivated by fear, they can be manipulated and made to do whatever the people in power want them to do.  Killing the Native Americans.  Treating slaves as property and not people.  Nazi extermination of 11 million people — Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, mentally challenged … fear of people who are different.  Who we don’t understand.  Who believe different than us.  Who are loved just as much as we “type” who somehow think we have the market on the love of a God who created all things…

Everybody, take a breathe.  Vote your conscious — do what you think is best.  But my God, folks.  Let’s not let our fear overtake us.  Don’t trade your common sense and intelligence in for a rumor or story that strokes your belief system and enslaves you to the status quo.  Don’t sell out years of democracy (as flawed as it can be) for a thought that “someone” different than you will bring about our country’s ruin.  (newsflash — we’re already walking that path, my friends). 

Don’t spur national media and television journalism one moment when the ideas, values and positions are different than your, then start quoting them the next minute when they somehow align with your feelings and beliefs.  And please, stop reacting, and become an informed voter!  Me?  I’m still not sure where I’m gonna go with my vote.  But I do know I won’t be voting against someone because of my fear.

Water as Life …

So, a week ago (actually, it will be a week tomorrow), the family and I decided we’d done enough of the crazy, Washington D.C. city stuff.  B. and I looked at a map, and lo and behold, discovered that where we were staying was less than three hours from the Delaware beaches of the Atlantic!  Side note:  I’ve kind of made a “personal” goal of getting to all fifty states before I turn fifty — or maybe sixty, for Alaska and Hawaii.  Anyway, Delaware is somewhere that none of the family had been to.  So, we decided to “surprise” the kids with a day away, ocean side.

Yeah, it’s October.  But it’s been unseasonably warm here — and there — and the day we chose was purported to be near 80 degrees!  So we packed our snacks and swimsuits, and made the journey, across Maryland (still trying to figure out how Maryland got half the peninsula that Delaware’s on … hmmm.) and into the small, but beautiful “first” state.

I love the water.  Usually I’m a “big lake” kind of girl, but this location … wow.  We decided to head to Lewes (pronounced “Lewis”) Delaware.  It holds the distinction of being the “first town in the first state,” a fact we joked about throughout the day.  We went to Henlopen State Park ( for a beautiful view of what we saw, check this out:  which has water both on the ocean side and the bay side.  It’s one of those places that, after you park, you walk up a boardwalk that sits on the dunes, and as you come over the top, the ocean and the beaches roll out before you like an unspeakable, beautiful vision.

Along the boardwalk, there were people painting beachscapes.  The beach was fairly desserted — only a few locals had taken advantage of the last spectacular day of Indian Summer.  The waves were picturesque … although we hesitated a bit, because, come on!  It’s October.  But the water was inviting, and we all spent a part of the day body surfing, laughing, running, and just soaking it all in.

Regardless of how I try, I can’t even begin to tell you how restorative being at the ocean again was for my spirit.  How, still a week later and a thousand miles away, it makes me breathe deep, and I still smell a hint of ocean air.  How perfect the day was.

We left to go grab a bite to eat (Chinese buffet — ate too much, but yummy sushi, Kung pao, fresh BBQ beef).  Then we headed to Lewes to just walk around.  The shops were all closed, but we still enjoyed the ambiance.  We found an old Episcopal church(the first church in the first town in the first state … you get the idea) … grave sites from the 1600’s!  (Yeah, I got a cemetery thing …).  They also had a Celtic prayer labyrinth in their front yard.  You could just feel the ancient spirit of the place. Walking back through town to our van, the local coffee shop was roasting small batches of beans in preparation for the next day.  The entire downtown smelled like roasting coffee …

After our stroll through town, we went back to the beach.  Even though it was dark, we headed back to the beach.  The moon was bright, and even before we saw the waves, we heard the pounding of the incoming tide.  The sites, the smells, the views … I get shivers just thinking about it.  We all kicked off our shoes, and played “tag” with the waves … just hearing the screams and giggles of the kids was ethereal.  Honestly, as we walked along the boardwalk, my husband’s arm around my barely visable waist, I breathed deep and felt overwhelmed by the blessings of this amazing day.

Heavy sigh.  I guess that’s all.  I just had to write this, to remind myself that the craziness of our vacation was pillowed with life-altering moments of bliss.  Yeah … we’ll go back there again someday.  A piece of me is still there, and probably always will be.

“Glory Days”

“We’ve all been up to that mountaintop, a golden glow that’s bound to soon wear off, and then it’s back to the mundane, telling tales of glory days when we were hopeful that this change was here to stay.” — “Live” (Nicole Nordeman)

This is a verse in a song my kid sings with a choir he’s in.  I’m not really “into” the church music, but these words grabbed me by the throat, because this concept of “high” living, followed by a time of drowning in the every day, mundane.  Then, how much of my life do I spend talking about the “glory days” that have gone by — or even thinking about “what was” rather than “what is”? 

Or, looking around me, I see a lot of this going on.  True, we speak about “moving forward,” but a lot of conversation swirls around what has been.  Things like “rich heritage,” or “tradition” or “faith of our fathers,” or … you get the picture.  And I understand remembering … but right now, in this day and age, I’m trying to be about a hope of things to come. 

It cracks me up, all the rhetoric about the election and what is “right” and “wrong,” when I’m sorry — a lot of this breaks down to the “problem” some people have with the possibility of a black man being president.  I see it in the angry way some people respond to the possibility … are they really that upset about a rumor about someone who was associated with a terrorist when he was a boy?  Or how some people blame the entire economic situation on a past president, one senator, and a parapolitical group that may or may not be involved somehow with a candidate?

People are clinging onto crap right now because they are hanging desperately to the “glory days” of a time when “we” (white, rich men and their kin) were in charge.  When we didn’t have to worry about the general populice.  When everything was predictable — whether it was right or wrong — because the majority of people agreed with the system.  When we could catagorize everyone easily, and we could have people who were “with” us and people who were not “with” us. 

And the church — many Christians — simply buy the party line.  Whatever “good Christians people” agree with must be what we all should agree with.  Or, we over-simplify everything.  I saw a sign today (that was basically — “vote for so-and-so, because their pro-life and that will bring God’s blessing” and I told my kids, “Yep.  God only cares about that one issue.  He doesn’t care about us taking care of the widows, the orphans, or his creation.”  I know it’s not an either/or scenario.  But why is it that someone with my view is calling for an “either/or” decision, while someone who fights a one-issue election (or two, if you throw in gay marriage) isn’t making an “either/or” statement?  And I’ve said as much with “Christian” friends, and they immediately jump to the conclusion that I am no longer “with” them.  Crazy.

I don’t want to tell anyone how to vote (unlike a lot of “good Christian people” I know).  But I do want people to think about it.  When you hear a rumor that isn’t logical — but agrees with your prejudice — don’t just swallow it.  When you see one candidate as “all good” or “all bad,” understand that all-inclusive generalizations are usually wrong.  Learn enough about the way our government works to know that one man can’t “sneak” into the White House and force us all to be muslim or anything else. 

This goes beyond politics.  We’re so use to accepting the “way” that organized religion is set up that we fear any change.  I’ve had people tell me (this is from “educated” church leaders) that the Bible set up the hierarchy, organizational structure of “the church” the way it is.  I’ve asked for chapter and verse, and have yet to get one (aside from the ordination structure of “elders” and “deacons” — which my local denomination have done away with — even though it’s in their “inerrant” scripture …).

This isn’t a tretise against the “church”.  All I’m saying is, whether it’s religion, politics, or economics (another subject totally), don’t just take the easy path and agree with things because they keep you comfortable.  Learn, study, research … and maybe take a step outside of what you “know” is true to listen to what you don’t agree with — just to test your own level of “faith”.

Don’t let fear of change make you stupid.  And please — if you call yourself a Christian, don’t put so much faith in a godless government.  Yeah, that statement’s gonna piss some people off, but come on, folks.  Again, know your history well enough (not just what agrees with your predisposition) to understand the dynamic of this country, and that change is not going to come from the government, but should come from each and every one of us taking what we “believe” and putting it into action.

Let the “glory days” go and walk toward what’s next.  Regardless of what happens November 4, don’t panic — don’t hate.  If you say you “trust God,” trust him with every aspect.  And use your entire created being — mind, body, spirit, soul — to weigh what you hear, read, and see.  And when you encounter a brother or sister who doesn’t “agree” with you, don’t assume you are all right and they are all wrong.  So much of what’s going on right now is really, truly opinion — whether you want to admit that or not. 

Standing in the promise of what’s to come — rather in the glory days of what was — might actually bring us all closer together.  Maybe?

Thoughts for a Sunday Morning – taking a break from the vacation memoirs

“Describing the bell-ringing ritual that precedes dokusan (a private interview with a Zen teacher), Philip Kapleau-roshi says:

…how the bell is struck tells the roshi, who can hear the sound in his room, whether the student is a beginner or a more advanced student and what the condition of his or her mind is.

‘How’ we do anything tells us the same thing.

‘Always do what you are afraid to do,‘ Ralph Waldo Emerson’s visionary Aunt Mary advised him.  We tie ourselves in knots to sabotage the energy that might be unleashed if we move resolutely ahead.  The risk of making changes are great … especially great changes.  Actually, the risk of not making changes are great.  We risk missing our lives.

Sometimes writers don’t move resolutely ahead because they fear that once they start, they’ll never stop. Like an anorexic who refuses to eat because her hunger is so deep, if she lets herself, she could eat forever — well, couldn’t she?  If a writer finally lets herself write, without any artificial boundaries, couldn’t she write forever?

Yet there is a difference between addiction and practice.  Regarding God, for example, Paramahansa Yogananda said, ‘It’s OK to be addicted [to God]’…means that it’s OK to use the energy that drives an addiction to fuel one’s personal relationship with God because the latter will not (as a true addiction will) drain the psyche; rather, it will fill it.  Writing will also.

‘…to do so requires knowing yourself, standing up for yourself, “owning” yor fears and weaknesses.  This is hard for a writer — to keep owning her fears and still to write.  If you try to tackle it with your mind alone, you’re likely to stop writing.  Yet succumbing to fear is worse than taking on the thing feared.  It removes you from reality by creating an artificial focus.  You waste your strength fighting an elusive battle.”  (quotes from One Continuous Mistake – Gail Sher)

This quote resonates with me so, so deeply.  I am coming to grips with my fears … “owning” them, as the author states.  The voices in my head tell me I’ll never “be a writer”.  That I’ve spent my life pursuing a lie, and I will never overcome my lack of discipline (again, a manifestation of fear) to do that which I dream of doing. 

I’ve had this little writing book for two years.  I read it, put it down and walk away, and forget the wisdom it shares — developing a daily writing practice; “dedicating” what I do (give it away) before it’s even created; posture, energy and creativity walk hand in hand … simple truths that will help me in defeating my demons of fear and failure.  I think it’s time for me to finish the book and “walk on.”

Hmmm …

Just adding this link on the heels of my “screwed up” government post:

This election just keeps getting weirder and weirder …

Why the Government is So Screwed Up…

After spending a week in D.C., the family and I understand a little better why the country is currently in the state its in …

People who live and work in Washington D.C. are by far the rudest, crankiest and most aggressive drivers I have ever encountered … and I have now been to 42 of the 50 states.

The city must have been laid out by someone dropping “pick up sticks” onto a table surface and then drawing the road system.  Honest to goodness … it’s suppose to be easy … number streets run East and West, letter streets run North and South … but then there’s the “state” streets, and the “congressional -named” streets, and why the heck does Massachusetts run straight, diagonal, and then stop and start again??!!??

Take the Metro?  OK, let’s see … for our family of six, that added up to almost $50 a day!!! For a long, smelly train ride with everyone from the young man who sat down randomly and brought up conversations with people wearing I-Pods, to the Islamic man who yelled at Ethan when he thought E. was taking his picture … very, very interesting people …

Directions?  OK, let’s see … my map didn’t contain streets that are there.  Mapquest took me the wrong direction.  Google maps?  It didn’t tell me that the road I wanted was up the ramp, not down through the “through” tunnel.  And why do they put turn signals on a car?  No one in Washington seems to know what they’re for…

Right now, they’re ripping up the sod in the National Mall … to replace it with new sod in time for the January inaugural proceedings.  Hmmm … won’t the grass be either brown or covered with snow in January?  And all the renovations to the capitol … not only make it impossible to get anywhere near the building, but also takes you blocks out of your way trying to get around it.  And, does congress work while all the construction is going on?  I dunno …

The place is a crazy conglomeration of people on cell phones, constantly honking horns (if they can figure out the horns, why oh why can’t they figure out their blinkers?), and women walking in high heels faster than most people jog around Clio.  The feeling of the city is electric, exciting, but always, always stressed and … angry?  Maybe that’s the underlying feeling I was facing all week long.  Chaotic, angry and always looking out for number one.  Reminded me a lot of how I feel this election year is shaping up… 

We had a great time.  But I gotta tell you, the craziness did get to me.  In fact, the rest of the family agreed that our favorite day was the one at the ocean.  But that day will have to wait for another blog…

Dealing with Demons

Washington D.C. has been an amazing experience for us as a family.  It’s been good for me, too.  I mean, with the family.  But it’s also been challenging to me.  Physically (try running around miles a day — often in a hurry — at fifty pound overweight!), emotionally (I’m not use to getting lost frequently), and mentally (planning out things so that everyone is experiencing something they want to).  I’ve had to suck it up quite a bit — we didn’t do the things I really wanted to, but that’s OK, because this was a family time.  I’ve been stretched, and yet have had a great time just reconnecting with the family, exploring new territory, and learning in a truly interactive way.

But today, I faced a new challenge.  I’m not proud to talk about it, but it’s something that happened that I’m still processing. 

We went to the Washington Monument today (OK, I have a hundred stories about this trip, but I’m gonna focus on the traumatic one right now).  I was already feeling nauseous today.  And we’d just walked — very quickly — over a mile to make the tour.  Sidenote:  I really hate heights — I’m OK sometime, but I pretty much had myself psyched out at this point.  I also am not crazy about small, cramped places with lots and lots of people.  I knew this experience would expose me to both.  Still, this was “part of the plan,” so despite the dread, I did it.

When you go up in the monument, you wait in a queue outside.  Then, you’re taken in about 12-15 at a time.  I doubled checked with the ranger, and she said she could “squeeze” our entire family in at the end of the group in front of us.  Cool — we’d been waiting a while.

We walked into the monument, and there are all kinds of security  You know, sending the bags through the x-ray, the magnetic walk through, etc.  I was doing fine … until I noticed a small, unassuming man had joined our group.  He had a heavy trench coat on, and he was from — I think — Pakistani heritage.  When I caught his eye, he smiled.  Then he held his coat close to him.  He kept glancing at me … probably looking for a friendly face in the group of silly Americans, 

But I didn’t see that then.  No, I re-ran a recent headline about increased Pakistani hatred of Americans.  I thought about how the monument would look blown to pieces by a suicide bomber.  I thought about how I would try to hang onto my kids, dangling six hundred feet in the air.  I let my mind run circles around my senses, and (combined with my already weakened physical condition and my predisposition to hating heights and small spaces) I thought I was going to hurl. 

As I walked around the upper part of the monument, I kept running into the same man.  As I watched him, he zipped up his coat even further, and kept hugging it close to him (it was not cold).  He would go from aisle to aisle, looking around, confident, but nervous.  E. was ready to go, so we went down a level to wait for the elevator.  Within seconds, the stranger was down, wandering around our level, too.  Then, he wandered back up to the observation level. 

When we got down, we sat outside for a while.  The clean, cooler air and the wide open space helped me feel better.  But then I had to reassess my fears and paranoia. 

I am not a fear-filled person.  My mom was, and I’ve always swore I would not be that person.  It made my life restrictive and flooded my childhood with unfounded fears and things I still struggle to work out (case in point — today).   And today, I let three stupid things compound to stress me out royally. 

The worse was the whole “terrorist” thing.   I am ashamed of my inability to look past a man’s exterior and allow the stupidity of some extremist years ago influence how I view my world.  There are angry, stupid, and ignorant people of all races and faiths.  What a person looks like, or even what they believe, doesn’t make them a threat to my family.  I know that; I see that every day.  What the hell happened to me today?

I dunno.  I could blame a lot of things — my exhaustion, my illness, my phobias.  But instead, I’m gonna continue to process this, and work through my own ignorance.  I’m gonna try and make sense of my senseless fear, and find a way through my prejudice. 

This trip has been tough.  The drivers around Washington D.C. are the rudest I’ve ever encountered.  With the exception of yesterday (we drove to the ocean), it’s been fun but also stressful!  We made some great memories, but I’ve been a jerk and way too high strung for vacation.  Today’s experience at the Monument was the proverbial sour icing for me.  There were good times afterwards; this experience haunts me, deep inside. 

I’ll write about the amazing ocean.  I’ll expound on the virtues of discovery my kids made this trip.  I’ll write about the fact that “E” and “A” wanted to go to the botanical gardens “just to see a Venus Flytrap,” and we came upon a specialist in “meat eating” plants (way cool).  But right now, I need to let this seep in, and I need to look deep to figure out how I could let myself be this way.

Wild, Wild Washington D.C.

We’re vacationing in the nation’s capital.  We’re doing the regular “tourist-tee” things — the monuments, the Smithsonians, etc.  We’ve had some fairly “normal” experiences — you know, the “country mice” coming to the big city and dealing with the traffic, the rude drivers, the extra $$$ required to do normal things. 

To save money, we’ve been packing our lunches and eating picnics each day.  Simple, right?  Not in Washington D.C. apparently!

Yesterday, while we were walking around Pennsylvania Avenue, suddenly there was an entourage of black limos, flashing lights, and maniac sirens flying by us down 14th Avenue (the North/South road that runs along the block beside the White House).  Freaky, no doubt, but everyone around us acted like it was an everyday occurrence (we ARE in the nation’s capital, after all).  Sure, we noticed all the extra police standing around.  Wesley reminded us that D.C. is the murder capital of the nation.  OK, no big deal, right?

We stopped to eat in a shady spot behind the West Wing of the White House.  We weren’t far from Lafayette Park — a closed off lane just behind the White House where various people protest and set up tee-shirt stands.  There was your nominal homeless man with the sign, “Restore trust in the USA — send Bush and Chenney to Jail”.  There was a lady protesting nuclear weapons who has done it every day for 25 years.  There was a guy dressed in an Uncle Sam’s outfit, campaigning for Barak Obama.  It was just the kind of place that provided some interesting people watching while we ate our simple lunch.

So, as we’re munching through our carrot sticks, suddenly the large, metal cylinders that provide a street-wide block of traffic on the road rattle to life.  I guess we hadn’t even really noticed them before.  But as they retracted, across the next intersection, suddenly three police cards flipped on their sirens, and headed up the opposite street.  While all this was going on, a couple of heavily tinted, black sedans cruised by us (over where the barricades had previously been), and turned the opposite direction of the police cars.  Smoothly and quickly, the barricades rose again, leaving the street in front of us just the same.  Like no one ever left the very secure area. 

Over the next, say, ten minutes, about three or four other black sedans and pick up trucks replayed the security drama in front of us.  In between times, the kids and us began noticing all the security cameras in the area.  And the way the people passing us by kept looking at us.  And the fact that the same homeless man from before had quietly moved closer to us — close enough to hear our coversations.  I told the kids he must have been a secret service man “under cover.”  They told me I was crazy.

One of the cars (a simple black car) had a woman driver and one passenger in the back seat — concealed and topped with a baseball cap — and seemed to go the opposite direction of the other cars.  At that point, I started to tell the kids a made-up spy story involving our friend who does fireworks, and an huge, underground terrorist attempt involving a family eating lunch outside the White House …

If that wasn’t enough, on our Metro ride home, a middle eastern student sat in front of Ethan and Kara.  He was unobtrusive, studing what looked like Arabic, loose-leaf pages.  He wore dark glasses (even though it was already dark outside, not to mention the darkness of the tunnels) and carried a plain, brown paper bag.  I really didn’t notice him, until Ethan tried to take a picture of Wesley and Aubree, sitting in the seat in front of the student.  Suddenly, he yelled, “No pictures!  No pictures!” and put a stack of the documents he was studying between him and the camera.  Needless to say, it freaked Ethan out a bit.  I took the camera, apologized, and explained that my other children were sitting in front of him, and they were the intended subjects of the photo.

But then I watched him the rest of the trip.  OK, I can let my creative imagination get away with me.  But I tell you what, after hearing the stories of the terrorist “practicing” by riding on the airplanes before 9-11 … I know, I know.  But I did watch him, through the reflection on the windows.  And when he got off our exit, he waited to let me off.  I folded my hands, and respectfully waiting and said, “Please.  You first.”  He had taken his glasses off by that time, and looked me right in the eye.  “Thank you,” he smiled.  And although it was probably nothing, I took note of his height, the time, the location.  After all, it’s D.C., right?

It got better today.  When we left the National Zoo, we were pulled over in a “random” search line.  The officer said it was a “routine” check to see if we had all our paperwork (registration, driver’s license, etc.) in order.  Now, he said, “So, you guys were at the zoo?” and we said yes.  “Are you with that car that just went ahead?  You guys traveling together?”  No, we replied.  When we showed him our paperwork, and he saw we were from Michigan, he said, “Oh, sorry.  Have a great day, folks.”  Wow.  Spot searched and asked for documentation right in our nation’s capital.  Weird, weird — and very unsettling. 

Of course, we assumed something had gone wrong or been stolen from the zoo.  Or perhaps, it was just what he said, a “random” stop.  But after all the drama of the day before, we just added it to our Washington “story.”  

There’s just way too much drama in this town.  We’re headed to the ocean, to a little seaside town tomorrow for a while.  I need a break from this crazy, wild city.

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