Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Day I Betrayed Cecil

By Mahlia Lindquist

Most people fantasize about sex, and so do I. But unlike most of us, I also fantasize about converting mean people to kind ones. In fact, I have a dream list of potential converts. 

Dick Cheney, Donald Trump, and the anonymous neighbor who called the police on me one New Year’s Eve, to name a few. Ditto for those who who park in handicap spots whilst not actually physically impaired. These are just mean-assed people. For their own good, as well as the greater good, they need an intervention to convince them to try niceness on for size. 

I imagine meeting my neighbor the tattle-tale, and imparting words of wisdom so compelling, so obviously from a place of intelligence and kindness, that he experiences a transformation, renounces his disagreeable ways, and thanks me. He promises to never, ever call the police on neighbors just trying to have a bit of fun on New Year's Eve, especially if it's barely midnight. Then he goes out into the world spreading love, cheer and good will to all mankind and animals. 

Speaking of animals, Walter Palmer, who butchered Cecil the beloved black-maned lion, is a recent addition to my list of fantasy converts.

When I heard the story of how Palmer and his guides lured Cecil from the protection of a preserve, shot him with an arrow, and finished him off after a 40-hour chase, my heart hurt. My heart hurt not just for Cecil, but for the decimation of rhinos, elephants, gorillas, whales, and legions of other species. My heart hurts even more when I consider what it means to be human, when the annihilation of hundreds of species is mostly a result of the rapacious appetites of my own.

When I added Palmer the lion slayer to my list, our imagined meeting had the same format as all of my other fantasy interventions: I would address him with courage, conviction and moral certitude.

Unfortunately, I discovered that I am so lacking in all three that I deserve to be on my own list of reprehensible souls. That, at least in my case, when fantasy collides with reality; courage, conviction, and moral certainty are easily displaced by shallowness and lack of fortitude.

I didn’t meet Palmer, but I did meet a version of him. His name is Stuart. 

Stuart and I met as I stood in line at my favorite coffee shop. We recognized each other from the gym and, as we waited for our coffee, enjoyed a cozy chat. Stuart is charming, funny and smart. And, oh yes, he is totally hot. 

Honestly, I would venture to say that  Stuart is one of the most beautiful men I have ever met.  At least on the outside. 

Stuart mentioned that he spends half the year in Africa.  “Oooohh,” I thought, “he probably works for one of those NGOs — charming, funny, smart, gorgeous AND an  international do-gooder.”  My version of winning the lottery. 

My imagination didn’t  just run away from me, it did in an olympic sprint. However, as always happens when imagination makes a run for it, reality beats it to the finish every time.

That ugly reality was Stuart's revelation that no, he doesn't work for an NGO. He is a professional hunter and leads safaris in Tanzania.

Unfortunately, fantasies die hard.

"Fascinating," I cooed. "I’ve always wanted to go on one those photograph safaris."

But, nope, Stuart was unabashedly specific; he uses guns, not cameras. 

Still, I couldn't wrap my mind around this genial man, so handsome on the outside, doing something so ugly.    

My heart, the one that hurt when I heard about Cecil, was filled with righteous indignation. But what came out of my mouth was tepid and mealy-mouthed.  
 Me: Oh how, um, <cough>, ahem …  interesting. Has all that publicity with Cecil hurt  business?  
Stuart: <snort> No, why would it?  
Me: Well, er, there’s been a lot of negative publicity, you know, killing a beloved lion, luring him from the protection of the preserve and all that. 
Stuart: Hah! With the $50k paid to kill an old lion, the public should be thanking the guy who shot him. The money he and other hunters pay goes a long way in protecting wildlife. Species are dying off due to destruction of habitat, not because of hunters. And who says Cecil was lured off the preserve? It’s normal to bait game, plus lions are free to wander. And, why does the outrage over a dead lion exceed the fury over the routine gunning down of innocents in our communities? Shouldn't we be talking about poor, abused and starving children? The threat to our planet from climate change and the poisoning of our oceans and rivers?  How hamburgers and hotdogs are made? The hypocrisy is sickening
What I thought was, can't we care about an old lion AND mass shootings AND the planet, AND the gross abuse of animals to satisfy our Big Mac cravings?  Isn’t it possible to protect habitat without hunting?  What kind of person kills majestic and endangered animals for sport? What kind of person likes killing so much he is willing to pay $50k for the privilege of the slaughter?  Wouldn’t it be infinitely preferable to pay $50k to protect habitat and not kill Cecil? I DON’T GET IT!!!!

Sadly, that monologue and concluding primal scream only happened in my head.

What I said was muted and lame, "well, there sure has been a lot of bad publicity, I wouldn’t want to be Palme."

When Stuart flashed a sexy smile and suggested we get together that weekend, primitive impulses almost allowed for an enthusiastic "ooohhh baby, your place or mine?!"  It was only through a miraculous flicker of my waning righteous indignation, that I coughed up a half-hearted, "sorry, I'm busy."

I walked away feeling an ashamed and spineless sell-out. All it took was a handsome face, charming personality (and killer body) to throw principles to the wind. For a few weeks I was filled with despair, no longer able to entertain fantasies of changing the world, one compelling and quick-witted conversation at a time.

I wondered if people who suffer from a depressed libido, unable to fantasize about sex, feel the same sense of loss and hopelessness.

But then, ever the first-rate rationalizer, I thought about how Stuart was an unfair barometer of my moral compass. After all, unlike Stuart, most heinous souls are just as repulsive on the outside. At least the ones on my list are. Besides, I didn't actually go out with Stuart. I am confident that if given the chance, I could redeem myself for betraying Cecil.

I am back to fantasizing about being a one-woman intervention wonder. However, in hopes that dreams do come true and I actually meet someone on my list, I am now careful not to include any hotties.

Fortunately, I won't have to delete Dick or Donald.

Monday, July 13, 2015

What's Wrong With This Underwear?

By Mahlia Lindquist

My 21 year old daughter, Dylan, threw away my underwear last week. 

And not just old tattered undies from the 1990s, we are talking perfectly respectable briefs purchased this century. Some even within the past month. 

It started last week at the mall where a happy mother-daughter afternoon of lunch and shopping turned into an awkward intervention in the middle of ladies’ lingerie.
Dylan:  Um Mom, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about. I’ve been thinking. … Gosh this is really hard … Okay, I’ll just say it … Mom, er, you’d feel so much better about yourself if you wore pretty underwear 
Me: Awww, thank-you honey, but I actually feel okay about myself. 
Dylan: Sorry Mom, but only a person filled with self loathing wears Hanes ladies' cotton hip hugger briefs. They're hideous.
Being more of a shoe person when it comes to fashion, I admittedly don’t give much thought to underwear. So I considered my panty wardrobe. Not exactly cutting edge but not grannyish either. Functional and comfortable. Certainly not hideous.
Me: Young lady, that is an unkind thing to say to your mother. My underwear is NOT hideous. Besides, who cares? That’s why it’s call underwear, no one sees it. 
Dylan: Mom, remember, build it and they will come. 
Me:  Don’t you think that’s a weird and inappropriate thing to say to the person who gave you life? 
My appeals to Dylan’s filial sensibilities were of no consequence. In fact, she seemed to think it  her daughterly duty to convey the gravity of the situation, no matter how painful the telling might be. Again, I quote: “Mom, you are stylish enough on the outside, but your underwear situation is akin to a person who is superficially beautiful but harbors a black soul.

Yes, my daughter compared my underwear to a black soul. What seemed to me to be nondescript and inoffensive undergarments, to Dylan shocked the very conscience. 

So I relented as she led me to Victoria's Secret, a retailer she is well aware I abhor. A retailer I have taught her is part of an evil empire designed to perpetuate distorted, no make that f@#*ed up, notions of sex and the ideal woman. A retailer single handedly responsible for the felling of zillions of trees to publish it ubiquitous and misogynistic catalogues.

Yet, here I was, with my daughter in a Victoria's Secret, my equivalent of Dante's Lowest Circle of Hell.

There in hell, I got to thinking how I had utterly failed in passing on wholesome values to my progeny. How I was one of those dangerous and ineffective single moms that commentators warn are the bane of society. How I was a bad parent whose failures doomed  her daughters to lives of eating disorders.

I paused the self-flagellation long enough to wonder if Dylan wasn't right. Now that she mentioned it,  maybe I wasn't feeling so great about myself.  Perhaps new underwear would improve my self esteem!

Victoria's Secret was an experience, if nothing else. I was amazed by the dizzying array of bras, like the "Bombshell Add-2-Cups Multi-way Push-up" and the "So Obsessed Push-up." The selection of panties was just as exotic and overwhelming, and included variations of the "Cheeky," "Cheekini," "Cheekster" and "Itsy.

I was like one of the Beverly Hillbillies on her first day in civilization -- "look pa, their outhouse is inside the house!" 

At the same time, Dylan navigated the store with familiarity and ease, expertly sifting through and selecting panties she promised would change my life. Plainly, this was not my daughter's first Victoria’s Secret rodeo. I had the dazed, confused and anguished feeling of an Amish parent who has just discovered her child’s cell phone and stash of weed. 

As I came to my senses and examined  Dylan's choices, I momentarily rebelled:
Me: Seriously? One of these pairs has lace on the crotch. Everyone knows that lace is itchy and bad for the vagina. Plus these are thongs, which everyone also knows are unhygienic and only to be worn with clothing that is too tight across the ass in the first place.  
Dylan: Seriously? That’s ridiculous. I wear them every day [talk about an arrow to my heart] Trust me, you are going to feel soooooo much better. 
Me: But do we have to buy them at Victoria’s Secret, a company you are well aware objectifies women, plus is responsible for destroying huge swaths of forest so that its semi-pornographic catalogues featuring images of malnourished and photoshopped women can be delivered to billions of households around the globe?  Those catalogues send bad, bad messages to women that they are not good enough and create unrealistic expectations among young men.
Dylan: Exaggerate much? Plus, when it comes to  feeling beautiful, we sometimes have to compromise our principles. Your principled purchases are ugly. 
She had me there. Though loath to admit it,  if forced to choose between principles and pretty, I usually opt for pretty. 

And so I did. I bought buy five pairs of pretty panties, lovingly selected by my daughter to enhance my sense of well being.

Later that week, Dylan asked if I didn't feel better wearing my new pretty underwear. I guiltily thought of the Hanes hidden beneath my skirt, but thought it best to just agree, "yes, totally, I feel like a new person."

The next day  Dylan stalked into my room with all 5 pairs of the new, obviously unworn, panties in hand.   "You've been wearing your old underwear!"  I made a mental note to self to remove the price tags next time and guiltily mumbled something about saving them for a special occasion. Dylan, a determined look to her brow, in turn mumbled something about this not being over.

The following morning I opened our trash can, and found what appeared to be all of my underwear covered by used coffee grounds and other refuse. I ran upstairs to check my drawers, and just as I feared, all that was left was the 5 pair of new panties.

My daughter reminded me of a vigilante who pours alcohol down the drain in hopes of stopping a loved one from drinking.

And it worked for the first four days. Having no other choice, I wore the new underwear. While not life altering, they were just as comfy as the Hanes. If me wearing pretty underwear made my daughter  happy, then I was happy.

But then, on the 5th day, only the pair I had been avoiding all week was left, the lace thong. Resigned, I put them on. Definitely not comfy. Plus, I was wearing a dress and felt completely exposed. The undergarment-naming geniuses at Victoria's Secret should have named these the "Feel Naked" line of panties.

Oh well, Dylan claims to wear them every day, maybe I would get used to it.... Except I didn't.

I came home that night and informed her that her "pretty" underwear definitely did not make me feel better. In fact, they were uncomfortable and I was feeling positively worse. And now, thanks to her vigilantism,  I didn't have any normal underwear to put on. 

She actually started to look a bit sheepish. But then, as I changed, her guilty look turned into mirth followed by uproarious laughter.

It turns out I had the underwear on backwards. It also turns out that in the case of thong underwear, the tag sometimes goes in the front, something even the Beverly Hillbillies could have figured out just by looking at them. 

Dylan took pity on her mom and pulled out a few pairs of my preferred panties that she had wisely kept in case of emergency. 

She asked if I recalled the time she was 14 and I took her to Nordstrom's to get fitted for a bra, despite her mortified tears of protest. 

How could I forget? It was a scene that she often claims scarred her for life.

"Here," she said as she handed me my Hanes, "I think we're even now."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Governor Rick Scott, A Real Tear Jerker

Florida Governor Rick Scott is one of my favorite topics. Like one of my favorite comedians, George Carlin, Governor Scott has a unique ability to make me want to laugh and cry at the same time. Governor Scott's comic genius is rooted in the fact that it is so effortless. He doesn't try to be funny, he just is. Similarly, he doesn't try to elicit tears, he just does. 
Fellow blogger, "Life in the Boomer Lane," also has visions of Rick Scott dancing in her head. She graciously allowed me to reprint her take on what an interview with Governor Scott on the topic of climate change would look like.
Readers who are like me will need a box of kleenex close by to wipe the inevitable tears of laughter, as well as the ones of outrage. 
An Interview With Rick Scott
Although Life in the Boomer Lane might appear to be someone whose thoughts run no deeper than whatever will cause readers to spew coffee, she is, in fact, fairly appalled at the state of the planet. She is especially appalled by some of our elected officials and by those who wield enormous power, with little concern for the environmental wreckage they leave in their wake. Rick Scott’s recent decision to eliminate the phrases “climate change” and “global warming” from state documents caught her attention. After a period of teeth-gnashing, she decided to “interview” the Governor in order to get to the bottom of what could have been behind his misguided decision. 
LBL: It’s been quoted in numerous sources that officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been barred from using the phrases “climate change” and “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports. Is this true, Governor Scott?
GS: I have made it clear that I will not discuss anything that is not a true fact. And I will not allow state employees to do so, either. I’ve said over and over that I’m not a scientist. I have no opinions about this.
LBL: So, in other words, you don’t think climate change actually exists?
GS: Here in the Great State of Florida, we don’t believe in climate change. People move here from Minnesota because it’s warm. It’s what makes this state great. And it has stayed warm, in spite of all the hysterical environmentalists. We don’t hide from the sun, here. I haven’t heard of anyone moving from here to Minnesota. Case closed. (chuckles softly to himself)
LBL: But global warming doesn’t mean that everything is getting warmer. It means that all weather patterns are getting more dramatic. Our ecosystem is being disrupted.  We will all suffer the consequences.
GS: Again, I’m not a scientist.  But I do invite those with adequate means to come to the Great State of Florida and play on our beaches, meet The Mouse, and watch dolphins try to survive in captivity.  We are here, living in Paradise, in spite of the doom and gloom that is being spouted about in other places.
LBL: But Florida is a state bordered on two huge bodies of water. Whether you personally believe in this or not, it’s been documented that sea levels are rising. Both the Atlantic coast and the gulf coasts are at risk. Are you concerned about this?
RS: I’m not an oceanographer, but I do know that here in the Great State of Florida, the last I checked, the beaches felt sandy and the water felt wet.  I’m not sure you can do better than that.
LBL: Are you aware that for the first time in history, California has instituted mandatory residential water restriction, in order to deal with the record-breaking drought. While lack of rain may not have been set off by climate change, scientists say that global warming is making the situation worse.
GS: I’m glad you brought this up, LBL.  I’m not a geographer, but I do know that California is really far away. I don’t believe anything I don’t see with my own eyes, and I sure don’t believe anything that takes place outside of Florida.
LBL: Are you aware that over 10,000 baby sea lions have washed up dead on a California island, with experts calling the unexplained deaths a “crisis” and “[Pups] are washing ashore at a rate so alarming, rescuers said Thursday, this year is the worst yet”.  It’s being blamed on rising sea temps.
GS: Ha, once again, California. I refuse to address myself to anything not in my home state. Most of my constituents don’t even know where California is.
LBL: OK, let’s talk Florida. Numerous high-rises are continuing to be built along the coast, with little consideration for the rising seas projected to frequently flood South Florida in the coming decades and to submerge much of it by the end of the century.
RS: I’m not a prognosticator, so I refuse to address myself to anything that might or might not happen in the future. And I’m not a longevity expert but I suspect that my constituents will all be dead by then.
LBL: With all due respect Governor,  have you read the latest issue of National Geographic? I’ll read from it directly: “Along with rising seas, Florida will be battered in the coming decades by extreme weather—dry-season drought and rainy-season deluges—the U.S. government’s National Climate Assessment predicts. Heat and drought threaten an agricultural industry that supplies the East Coast with winter vegetables, and they could undermine the three mainstays of Florida farming—tomatoes, sugarcane, and citrus. The rainy season will be stormier, with fiercer hurricanes and higher storm surges.”  A lot of this will be happening in the next 10 or 20 years. Won’t many of your constituents still be alive?
RS: Hey, this is the Great State of Florida. The median age is 102. I’m not a mathematician, but I  don’t think so. Anyway, it’s typical liberal schmutz. I’ve never trusted National Geographic.  They always have a least one photo of titties.
LBL:  You win.  Let’s talk Florida. Every day, tons of toxic waste is being dumped into St. Johns River, by the Koch Brothers company, Georgia-Pacific.  The Brothers put millions into your SuperPac. The St Johns is the longest river in Florida and the greatest recreational body of water in the state. You are the current chairperson of Florida’s Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, and yet you refuse to investigate.
RS: I’m glad you brought up The Koch Brothers.  I’m not a citizenship expert, but I believe the Koch Brothers are outstanding citizens.  They always carry proper identification with them and have never falsified voting documents.  They stand for everything that is good and decent in America. If we follow them, the only things the government will have to pay for will be the prison system and national defense.  The rest is extraneous. I’m behind the guy who has 80 billion in his pocket, over the guy who has some schlub job and lives from paycheck to paycheck.
LBL: So, in other words, we have absolutely nothing to worry about.
RS: Only if you live in the Great State of Florida.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Prison: An Inside Out Perspective

My first experience of the Miami-Dade Correctional Institute was on a bike ride to Everglades National Park. It is a sprawling, drab looking complex surrounded by barbed wire at the edge of the Everglades. Standing there, in front of its incongruously small sign, the prison seemed to me just as exotic as the flora and fauna of the surrounding Everglades.

Indeed, the prison reminded me of the alligators that populate the area. Placid on the outside, neither pose an immediate threat. Yet, both seemed to be lying in wait, ready to swallow the reckless or unwitting wanderer. To me, the prison, like alligators, evoked a sense of foreboding. 

They also evoked a weird fascination. 

I couldn’t help it; I had to stop and take a selfie. Along with photos of alligators, iguanas, and tropical birds documenting my Everglades adventure, there’s me in front of the Dade Correctional Institute: “hey mom, look at me in front of a prison, LOL!” 

Not once did I think of the actual people living within. When it comes to causes, like the environment, domestic violence, education, the arts, homelessness, or world hunger, we all have our thing. The plight of prison inmates has never been my mine. Maybe it’s the former prosecutor in me, but other than Orange is the New Black, prisoners were not on my radar. 

In retrospect, I must have subconsciously considered them lost causes who have only themselves to blame.

Fast forward a few months and I am outside the very same prison, waiting to meet a woman who has been incarcerated for almost five years. I am to act as her mentor as part of the Ladies Empowerment Action Program (LEAP,) which  provides entrepreneurial training to women about to be released from prison. 

Thirteen fellow volunteers and I cluster at the entrance to the prison. We are dressed conservatively, no jewelry, with only our driver’s license and car keys, per instructions from Yvette, one of LEAP’s fairy god mothers. The prison officials were expecting us, yet kept us waiting almost an hour in the blazing sun before letting us in. They did not provide an explanation for the delay and I suppose there is no reason why they should. After all we had an appointment at a prison, not dinner reservations. 

Still, it seemed inconsiderate. I felt powerless at not being able to demand to speak to a manager. The same emotion as when subjected to Byzantine rules and surly TSA agents at airports. In prison, as with airports, there’s nothing to be done except submit. 

I considered how much more degrading it must be for the prisoners. Of course, the TSA and prison guards have an unpleasant and important job to do, and are just as deserving of my compassion. More so, considering that unlike TSA and corrections officers, the inmates owe their circumstances to criminal conduct. Yet, my sympathies were more with the convicted felons than the guards trying to make a living. 

I imagine that’s because it’s easier for me to empathize with the inmates. I can’t envision a scenario where I would end up a prison guard, it's not something I would actually choose. But, as for being a prisoner… “there but for the grace of God….”

It seems so easy to go wrong.

When we finally got in, a corrections officer provided each of us with our own personal panic button. If pressed, the guard explained, the prison would go on lock down and send security to our rescue. She also cautioned us not to accidentally sound the alarm. The guard’s admonishment launched us into a state of anxiety, as we imagined the mortification of being the idiot to accidentally put the entire prison in a state of emergency. Or worse, a situation that would justify panic.

Once in, a corrections officer led us across the grounds to meet our charges. On the way, we passed inmates who looked on curiously, said hello, and stepped aside politely to let us pass. My anxiety over the panic button subsided, only to be replaced by a new one -- fear of failure.

What on earth did I have to offer an incarcerated woman studying to be an entrepreneur? Other than a two person law firm, I have never run a business, and have only worked part-time intermittently since having kids. My only experience with criminals was to put them behind bars. 

I never felt so unqualified for a job since I arrived home with my first newborn. Surely, someone trying to start a new life after prison deserved better than me.

The women were seated at desks and looked at us, their mentors, with giddy anticipation. The 13 of us stood before them feeling, and probably looking, a bit dopey. That awkwardness lasted all of 30 seconds.

We were quickly paired up and moved the desks so that each mentor could converse semi-privately with her student. It was a cacophony of talk, lots of girl talk: “oooh, I love your pants!” … “I know you were mine as soon as you walked in the room” … “cute haircut” …

Whitney, a LEAP teacher, who at 8 month’s pregnant managed to be adorable, sweet, competent and tough all at the same time, made a futile effort to quiet us. We were too busy getting to know each other in our allotted 30 minutes to heed her pleas to lower our voices. Because the inmates do not have access to the internet, they were to explain their business plan and be prepared with a list of questions for their mentors to research for them. While there was business talk, the women mostly seemed to bask in having a special someone genuinely interested in their life. 

I get to mentor “Beth,” 37, who plans to open a hair salon. Beth is already licensed to cut hair and has over 15 years of experience. She is also good with make-up and would like to combine beauty services. She asked me to look into the licensing requirements for doing permanent make-up.

Beth is personable and beautiful. Just like the Piper character on Orange is the New Black. Except, not quite. 

Unlike Piper, Beth is not in prison for just one misdeed. She messed up many times over a period of many years. In the process she disappointed and inflicted pain on many people.  

I do not claim to have learned everything about Beth in 30 minutes. 

However, I do know a few things about her. I know Beth regrets what she did and genuinely wants to lead a productive, good life when she gets out. I also know that Beth is not a lost cause, and that  she is terrified of how she will get by post-prison. It will be difficult but, with help, she can do it. 

Talking to the other mentors afterward, they expressed similar sentiments about their students. The nervousness that filled the air as we walked in, was replaced by a collective sense of hope and purpose. 

On the way out, I passed the small sign where I took that selfie months ago. The prison and its inmates no longer seemed exotic or a threat. The prison was just a hard, sad place. As for the inmates, they were just people who made mistakes and need help — not so different from where virtually every person I know has been at some point.

Overall, my visit to the Miami Dade Correctional Institute was a positive one. It was interesting and I left feeling hopeful and like maybe I can make a small difference. I have only only regret. It's that we were not allowed to bring in our smart phones. 

I sure would have liked to have gotten a selfie from the inside.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thank-you Alabama

By Mahlia Lindquist

My former step father was from Geneva, Alabama, and growing up I spent holidays there with his family. With Alabamian Judge Roy Moore and his brave stance in defense of God in the news this week, I feel it high time I express proper appreciation for all that my step-family and other good people of Alabama have done for me.

Thank-you for teaching me about Yankees, and all the harm they have done. When I overheard you refer to my mom as a Yankee when she was out of earshot, I didn’t understand. My Alabama step-cousins helpfully explained that Yankees are bad people from the North. If you hadn’t taught me the truth, I would have foolishly gone through life thinking Yankees were nothing but a bunch of baseball players.

Thank-you for teaching me about Rocky Mountain Oysters. If you hadn’t served me that heaping plate of “chicken” when I was 13 and laughed uproariously as I turned a bilious green upon learning the truth, I would never have learned how to take a joke. I know now that you were laughing with me and not at me. 

Thank-you for not running my Jewish boyfriend out of town. Not knowing better, I  brought him to Thanksgiving dinner. I heard afterward that you all didn’t know what I was thinking bringing a Jew to dinner. Please forgive me, I was just 17. 

I also appreciate your teaching me that it's not taboo to refer to an African-American as nigger and that inter-racial marriage is not okay. Growing up in my Godless and liberal circles, I definitely was getting the wrong message.

And, now, your Judge Moore is out there fighting the good fight. 

That's Judge Roy Moore, the Chief Judge of the Alabama Supreme Court who directed state officials to ignore a federal court decision striking down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage. I am filled with gratitude that he is unwilling to put the laws of man before God. 

Of course he shouldn’t bend to a silly federal court mandate striking down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage.  Chief Moore is standing strong, even though he knows from personal experience that he is bound to lose. That experience was being removed from office for refusing to take down a 2-ton monument of the Ten Commandments in the state judicial building. 

Judge Moore is truly a hero, and though the left wing media holds him up in ridicule, I am sure that history will recognize him as the giant that he is.

As we all know, our founding fathers were God fearing dudes. They may have said separation of church and state, but they actually meant our country should be governed in accordance with a literal reading of the Old Testament.  I just hope that when Judge Moore is finished protecting the sanctity of marriage, he gets around to enforcing other Old Testament rules. Especially the ones prohibiting men with wounded penises, women with uncovered hair, and bastards from entering church.

Now, some may say that not everyone in Alabama deserves as much praise as Judge Moore and the good people I got to know in Geneva. After all, almost 5 million souls live there. They surely must include a fair share of homo loving liberals and spineless cretins willing to succumb to the pressures of a Washington controlled by Ivy League elitists.  

However, let's recognize that the majority of Alabamans are on the right side. They re-elected Judge Moore even after a panel of his peers deemed him unfit to be a judge. They also voted for Governor Bentley, who promised not to take legal action agains probate clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses. They also elected Governor Fob James, who in the 1990s argued that the Bill of Rights did not apply to states. In fact, Alabama voters have a long history of electing leaders willing to stand up to the Federal government.

It's also important to recognize Alabama's long history of refusing to back down from its defense of Christian principles. 

Alabama's brave last stand in the 1960s against desegregation is legendary. Even more recently, Alabama became the last state in the country to overturn its ban on interracial marriage. Despite more than three decades having passed since the Supreme Court ruled such laws unconstitutional, more than 40 percent of Alabamians voted against taking it off the books.  

Thankfully, the law against sodomy, which is right up there with the mixing of the races, is still on the books. The law is unenforceable, but I appreciate that the citizens of Alabama want us to know where they stand. Symbols are important.

Importantly, Alabama can't be bought. Its leaders have taken a strong stand against the evils of socialism and federal interference by opting out of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. The expansion would have provided health insurance coverage to thousands of its poor families, but no amount of federal money is worth selling out. 

Yes, my personal experience was with a small segment of Alabama's population thirty years ago, but the lessons I learned have stayed with me. They helped learn right from wrong. I have every reason to believe that the majority of Alabamans are still every bit as worthy of my gratitude.  

Go 'Bama!

Monday, February 9, 2015

How Young is Too Young?

By  Mahlia Lindquist

Men who date much younger women are like tone deaf singers at karaoke. Both remain blissfully unaware of others cringing on their behalf.  

Guys who parade around girlfriends young enough to be their daughters are often mocked, and are particular objects of derision for older women. However, I have never been in that camp. My attitude has always been a blend of "different strokes" and "who can blame them?" 

Women in their 20s and 30s are generally less cynical and opinionated than older ones. They also have less flab, fewer wrinkles, and no chin hairs. Age-wise they are at the sweet spot of being past the hormone induced craziness of adolescence and haven’t reached the hormone induced psychosis of menopause. 

Granted, objective and anecdotal evidence suggests that dating much younger women is highly overrated, but the older men who go for them don't necessarily deserve blanket ridicule.

Women don’t date much younger men because, statistically speaking, for them it’s usually not an option. Accordingly, mature women resent men who can date the young, along with the young ladies who they perceive as a threat. 

When it comes to younger guys who are not complete assholes, can form actual sentences and are otherwise socially acceptable, it makes sense that if women could, they would. Or at least some of them would. 

As for men who begrudge other men their pretty young things, perhaps they're jealous they don’t have the, ahem, resources to convince a 30 year old to endure the realities of an older dude. By realities, I mean the unsavory facts of life that women who get hitched to men their own age usually don’t experience until their 60s and 70s. 

For the younger woman in it for the long haul, these facts of life will include, but not be limited to, wrinkles, balding, a butt that gets flatter as the stomach gets rounder, viagra dependency, and ear hair. 

Absent a perfectly timed fatal car crash, having a much older partner will also mean having to deal with unpleasantness such as cancer, heart disease, and hip surgery. 

Then there's the potential aggravation of kids from a former marriage, a heinous ex-wife who still gets alimony and, horror of horrors, being called grandma at age 35 when the step-children start breeding. 

Older men may also balk at the prospect of more children, or not be able to have them, so the serious minded younger woman must engage in a cost-benefit analysis: is it worth having to shop for Depends at a stage of life when she should be buying Pampers?  For someone without resources, it makes total sense.

I have always looked at these issues as an interested bystander. 

Since divorcing, I haven't sought the attentions of anyone so young that it might scandalize my kids. Not that I am adverse to embarrassing them. It’s just that being part of a culture where it is generally not an option to date a man young enough to be my son, I unconsciously stick to men within a decade of my age. 

At the same time, I am happy to cheer on guys and the occasional women who are comfortable having daily conversation with someone who has never heard of Fleetwood Mac, or Earth Wind and Fire. 

Recently, I had an unexpected and unsolicited glimpse into their world.

It was with a young man named Mark. He stood over me on an airport shuttle in the midst of my ravenous assault on a veggie sub. Hoping he would move to the next aisle, I pretended not to see him and stayed on task. However, he continued to hover, smiling, until I reluctantly moved the bag on the seat next to me. 

As he settled in, I silently prayed for the silent type. It had been a long food deprived flight, and I was not in the mood to make nice. But, alas, despite my aloofness, Mark cheerfully chatted away.

He was funny, smart, attractive, and we had many common interests. Like me, he wasted time writing blog posts that hardly anyone reads, and he even liked Fleetwood Mac! I was especially charmed that he was more amused than disgusted by my chowing down like a labrador who hasn’t eaten in a week. 

He seemed on the younger side but, maybe not that young, whatever that means. It felt like we were contemporaries. 

When the ride ended and he suggested we continue our conversation over drinks, I was game.  It was a complete blast and time flew. After a couple of hours, we said good-bye and promised to read each other’s blog (hi Mark!)  

Later that night I received a text from him that was completely unintelligible. It included unfamiliar acronyms and words like “chill” and “kick it”  -- terms that may as well have been Arabic, but which I’ve heard my kids use. 

It dawned on me that maybe Mark and I were not exactly contemporaries. 

Our specific ages never came up, but I had talked to Mark of my daughter in college, working in Miami in the late 1980s, and visiting Berlin before the wall went down, so to me it seemed obvious. Not to mention that I look exactly like what I am, a middle aged woman.

Not so with Mark. His look was more ambiguous and he hadn't referred to experiences that would suggest his age. I figured early 40s.

I read Mark's text to my daughter who translated: “mom, he’s totally into you and wants to know if you want to go out." She added, "you should totally go.” 

So much for the pleasure of scandalizing my children. 

Yet, I hesitated. Mark was obviously younger than me but, hey, he was a Fleetwood Mac fan, so he couldn’t be that young. 

It was a lovely evening. Mark was fun, thoughtful, and one of the nicest people ever. However, as the night progressed, being with Mark felt like communing with a native of a remote island who speaks a different language — exotic and interesting, but someone who would always seem foreign. 

That night with Mark, I learned what that young means to me.  

I don't know Mark's exact age and I actually don't want to know. I cringe every time I think about it. But he is not in his 40s ...  or probably even in his 30s. The light finally went off as Mark described a bar that he and his friends went to the previous night:  
The music was great, but we left early because everyone there was like in their 40s and 50s! 
I nodded sympathetically, “yeah that sounds, like, totally lame.”  

Later, as we said good-bye, I casually asked Mark, 
Hey, what did you say the name of that place was? The one with the great music and people in their 40s and 50s?
Gawd, what I would give for the blissful unawareness of the tone deaf karaoke singer.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

P.S. ...

By Mahlia Lindquist

Readers who have been following the Rocky Mountain Miamian (RMM) from the beginning, this post is for you -- a quick  postscript to some of the 2014 RMM stories. 

The RMM blog started as a creative exercise to get my creative juices flowing for a simmering book idea (see Hardness, Testosterone and Bookcovers,) and my first post was  I’m Not Unemployed, I’m a Writer. Unfortunately, I have so much fun writing for the RMM blog that it has been more of a distraction than inspiration for the book.  Consequently, six months later all I can say is "I'm not unemployed, I'm a blogger, which doesn't have the same ring to it as "I'm a writer."  

With regard to the Pleasure and Perils of a Pink Pet,  Zoe decided that if a pink Willow was a good idea, a red, white and blue one with with a mohawk would be even better. Willow was not amused. 

The real pity was that between the freakish hairdo and Willow's now sullen demeanor, pedestrians no longer stopped to chat and admire him on our walks.  Our family new year's resolution is to resist any impulses to decorate our dog. He is adorable all on his own.
This is a photograph of me with a quasi-celebrity. It was published in Ocean Drive magazine and taken during the 100k charity ride, for which I was training when I wrote about Biking In Miami. The photo suggests I am happy, healthy, and perhaps even socialize with the rich and famous.

Nope. The photo actually demonstrates that the adage of a picture being worth 1000 words is complete hogwash.

At the moment of the photo, I was hating life and praying for the ride to end which, for me, it did in short order. Moments later I crashed and broke my collar bone in a spectacularly painful and humiliating fashion.

As for the quasi-celebrity, I am certain he would be unable to pick me out of a line up if asked to identify the person who almost died shortly after being photographed with him.

By the looks of news that came out after my Open Letter to A-Rod, he has not changed his ways, nor has he made amends to my niece. The A-Rod letter is by far the most read of all of my posts, which I initially attributed the celebrity name in the title. So, to attract more readers, I put Oprah's name in the title of a later post. However, it was not nearly as popular as the A-Rod letter. It seems that most  people prefer to read about a rich baseball player who one commentator said has "been shamed into silence, relegated to cowering behind lawyers and liars"  over a rich superhero of a woman committed to making the planet a better place.

The creator of the famous Hot Crazy Matrix A Man's Guide to Women wrote to say that he is glad I enjoyed his YouTube presentation. He did not mention my describing him as a troll who has to pay for sex, so I assume there were no hard feelings and he appreciated my Hot and Crazy, It's in Our DNA essay. At least, I hope so.

The My Backpack is Butch post is officially obsolete. Zoe has deigned to use the Patagonia backpack for school, so I guess it's no longer butch. Or maybe the backpack is butch, and butch is cool. Or, maybe she's using it because her old one is ripped and I refuse to buy another one. Or, maybe she is exercising the prerogative of all 17 year olds to be utterly irrational.

I would like to acknowledge Zoe for being an awesome sport.  She previews my posts that poke fun at her and has given each one the okay. She even posed for this photo with the now acceptable backpack.  Her sense of humor and self-deprecating nature are two of the zillions of qualities that make her an exceptional person.

Exhibit A

In response to Miami, My Crazy B*tch, a few Boulder friends were skeptical that some women actually want bigger butts. Accordingly, I offer  Exhibit "A," a "butt plumping system," for sale in Miami retail establishments.  I really don't make this stuff up.

This blog has had the unfortunate effect of highlighting that I don’t have an actual job. Two of my more practical and highest earning friends asked what, if I make no money from blogging, is the point? To that, I say, in the 6 months since I started the RMM blog, it has had a total of around 5000 page views.  It takes 100,000 views per day to earn $100,000 per year blogging. I've had 26 so far today, so with just 99, 974 more views, I will be in the money.

Thank-you to everyone who has provided positive comments, “likes,” and shares for my 2014 Rocky Mountain Miamian (RMM) efforts. With your continuing support I will reach the goal of 100,000 views before my 80th birthday, which would be a great way to say  Happy Birthday To Me.

A super special thanks to readers who haven't had anything nice to say but heeded their mother's advice and chose not to say anything at all.