Category Archives: Stuff to make you think

Posts that get you thinking or asking yourself how you feel about it, what your opinion is, etc.

Non-Advice For My Daughter


I’ve seen a bunch of blog posts and articles over the past few months from parents giving advice to their children of various ages. The posts are usually insightful, witty and full of lots of good bits of “do as I say, not as I do—or did.” In other words, they’re well-meaning…and flavored with a pinch of futility.

Why futility? Because the authors seem to remember that when they were younger, they too had been on the receiving end of similar “I know better than you” platitudes.

And they didn’t listen to a word of them.

So, my darling daughter, instead of dropping my gunny sack of guidance at your feet, I want to explain why I’m going to pass on this particular parental obligation.

Advice, as you know, is “guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative,” according to the dictionary definition.

In other words, advice is lessons older people share with you (after learning them on their own the hard way) because they don’t want you to make the same mistakes they did. Remember all the great advice you got in your Coming of Age program at our church? Yeah, that. That’s what I’m talking about.

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Run From The Gun

Photo Credit: Dunechaser via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dunechaser via Compfight cc

When we had our daughter thirteen years ago, the topmost worry on our minds was how to get through the day without collapsing from exhaustion. After that, it was teaching her to do her business in the toilet and to walk across the room without falling down.

The “teaching” moments we have with her now, thirteen years later, are oddly still about the proper ways to act as an adult and how to stay safe.

Before you jump to conclusions, this is not a post about feminism and what a raw deal women still get after all this time (although, on many fronts, I believe this is the case).

This isn’t a post about how my daughter needs to protect herself from men, although it’s highly likely that if she is a victim of a violent crime at some point in her life it will be at the hands of a man. The same would be true if she were a boy.

This is a post about the recent advice my husband and I gave her about how to protect herself from a very specific kind of harm.

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Suicide is a Homonym

shutoff valve

Not long ago I found out a man I used to work with was diagnosed with ALS. In my day job, I help employees who have disabilities and need a leave of absence or help performing their jobs because of those disabilities. Naturally he called me.

He was the exact opposite of how I’d be if I just found out I had a protracted, terminal illness: calm, plan-full, laughing, resigned. Although, he did tell me a secret: “I have a wife and daughters, and I have to be strong for them. But when I’m in the shower, that’s when the tears come. I do my best crying in the shower.”

We talked about the company’s different leave of absence programs, medical plans, life insurance, and short- and long-term disability benefits. He told me he hoped he would realize when he was no longer able to work and “bring value.”

“I don’t want someone to have to force me to leave.”

Of course, I wondered what would I do if I were him. And the answer came to me without hesitation, like an eager understudy waiting in the wings.

I would commit suicide.

Not right away.

Not while I was still relatively healthy.

Not while I could still take care of myself.

But right before I felt like I was becoming a burden on my family.

Just before I felt like I didn’t have control over my life anymore.

I knew this because of the man I’d watched die a few years before.

A documentary called “The Suicide Tourist” featured that man. His name was Craig Ewert, and he had ALS. When I say I watched this man die, that’s exactly what I mean. He traveled to a clinic in Switzerland called Dignitas, and with his wife by his side, he drank a lethal cocktail of drugs followed by a chaser of apple juice. A few minutes later, he died.

John Zaritsky, the Canadian director, received a lot of flack for showing the actual moment of Ewert’s death. But he had a good reason to do so: “It would be less than honest if we were to make a film about the process and not actually be able to see the ‘hole in the hat’ as it were,” he said. “We would be left open to charges that the death was unpleasant, cruel or wasn’t even done willingly. People can judge for themselves.”

And I did.

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UPDATE: To Friend or Not To Friend

Don’t you hate it when you get sucked into a juicy story and for whatever reason you don’t get to finish it? It might be a movie, an “accidental” eavesdropped conversation or an article in your dentist’s waiting room. You’re left thinking, I wonder what happened?

Well, never fear. I won’t do that to you. This post is an update to one I wrote a few posts ago about the “problematic” Facebook friend request I received.

I asked for advice on how to handle it and got one of three responses from everyone who commented:

  1. Don’t accept it; you don’t need that kind of friend.
  2. Accept it, but keep your guard up and un-friend if necessary.
  3. Do what you want, but know that the person probably has a different memory of that time.

And the winner was…none of the above. At least initially.

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Hiding Behind Malaysia Flight 17


Photo Credit: Victoria Nevland via Compfight cc

This week I’d planned to do a follow-up to a recent post about my Facebook friend request conundrum. And as is so often the case in life, things happen. The follow-up post will have to wait until next week.

This thing that’s caused me to switch blogging gears started out as a twisted idea for a tweet. And if you haven’t seen the season finale of “24: Live Another Day,” here comes a…


News of the downed Malaysia Flight 17 broke a few days after the season finale of “24: Live Another Day.” The final scene of that episode showed the main character, Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland), flying off in a helicopter to the waiting arms of Mother Russia, who was about to go all revenge-crazy on his “terrorist” ass.

I won’t even say what my tweet idea was. I’m sure some douchebag already made the same connection and tweeted my thoughts. The good news is at least my filter is still intact, even if it took my husband’s foresight to kick it into gear with “Bad idea, honey.”

So, I’ve spent the last few days watching the nearly 24-hour coverage like a lot of other people. But instead of waiting for information about who did it, what “it” really was and what we’re going to do about it (because of course we always have to do something), I waited for something else.

I waited to see which U.S. media outlet would talk about our own “tragic and regrettable accident” (as it was referred to in a report from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) back on July 3, 1988. That was the day the USS Vincennes shot down Iranian Airbus Flight 655 while it was on its way to Dubai, flying in its own airspace, over its own territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, on its usual flight path.

I’m still waiting.

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