Thursday, June 28, 2007

Marco Polo



The cricket hopped through the hall, looking from left to right slowly. "Marco!"

"Polo!" Another cricket peeked out behind a plant. As the first cricket crawled by him, he moved farther behind the plant.

"Marco!" the first cricket called, running down the edge of the right wall. "Marco!"

"Polo!" the second cricket whispered softly, running behind a umbrella. The first cricket whirled around, his antennae twitching attentively. "Marco!" he called, hopping towards the plant.

"Polo!" the second cricket called, scurrying under the couch.

"Marco!" the first cricket yelled, running towards the umbrella. "Polo!" the second cricket called, recessing under the couch.

"Marco!" the first cricket said, running towards the couch.

"Polo." the second cricket whispered and flattened himself against the dirty floor.

"Marco polo!" the first cricket cried, running under the couch and tagging the second cricket.

"Awww," the second cricket complained. "You got me."

"It's your turn to chase now. I'm going to go hide."

"Wait!" the second cricket hissed, "The cat's coming."

The cat sauntered by the couch, her eyes only flickering to the crickets for a brief moment.

"You're supposed to play Marco Polo in water, you know," the cat drawled as she sauntered off.

The first cricket looked at the second cricket and scoffed. "Who would want to play Marco Polo in water?"

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Dear Invisible Friends,

I need help desperately. Say I was working on a middle grade novel about a zany teacher who teaches her students through whimsical adventures. The principal hates the teacher and is actually a enemy she's not aware of from her past. He manages to get her kicked out of the school. When confronted by the protagonist, he finds out that the principal held a grudge against the teacher since he won an award she wanted. To get even, he forged documents to become a principal and in hiring teachers in order to blackball her from teaching in schools. At the end, he's arrested and the children go back to having adventures.

This is where I need help. Is that a dumb ending? Can you think of something better? I'm stuck and can only think of Disney-inspired cheeseball endings. Should the principal have some other reason for hating her? Is an award dumb? What other ideas do you have to make this book not retarded?

Please let me know. I'm falling apart over here. Dear Invisible Friends, I need you so. Help a delirious girl out.

Anxiously yours,

The Blonde Duck

Tiny Pool of Wonder

For the past week, it has been pouring in the Pond. Because I can not be contained, I often walk in the rain. Carefully hiding under my umbrella and stepping gingerly from the curb to the street, I leap over the small lakes and rivers below me. What once was a pothole or chunk missing from the road has become a tiny pool of wonder.

Stopping as the rain beats down around me, I bend down to peer at the tiny pools. Is it my imagination, or is there a tiny toad swimming in the depths of the murky water? In this urban landscape I work in, I'm lucky if I see a butterfly or some birds, particularly in the scorching heat of the summer. Glaring concrete does not attract many animals.

Within each tiny pool, tiny bits of life are forming. Birds bathe and drink as they flutter their wings rapidly; tiny bugs skate over the surface of a nearby pool. Earthworms slither through the water like snakes, crawling from pool to pool to find their home in the soil.

The star of this minuscule water world is the tiny toad, who hops from pond to pond. He gently swims through the water, settling on the pebbles lining the bottom and waiting for the rain pounding his personal pond to slow. If only there were small minnows to join him, each small world would be a true tiny pond, complete with all plant life needed.

One can almost imagine the toad's day. He must awake each morning with a helping of peppered gnats, then take a morning swim. He ventures out in the late morning to explore the unknown territory around him, conquering the neighboring lake as his own and treating the current spiders and earthworms that inhabit it as kindly as he treats his own people. After such an adventure, he dines on precisely one half of a cricket, saving the other half for the next day. After a day of such important tasks as hopping, jumping, bouncing and wiggling, he retires to the bottom of the pond to sleep on a bed of moss and clovers as both earthworms and incests swim around him.

For now, however, the toad has clovers and weeds to content himself as gnats and flies buzz by. The grackles have all hidden in the bushes away from the sidewalk, and only the sparrows disturb his tranquility. For now, the tiny frog is truly the frog king of this universe.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Confessions of a reluctant domestic

I have a confession to make.

Promise you won't tell?

Swear you won't say anything?

Pinkie swear?

Ok, here it is: I am a reluctant domestic. While I can clean and cook with a decent ability, and I actually enjoy cooking because it involves one of my favorite things--food--I am not good at creating a "home." My mother brought over paint samples the other day, and it put me in a panic. The idea of decorating my office sends me running out of the house to the nearest pool. Throw pillows, curtains and cozy little accents make me want to take out a giant remote and change the channel to something more familiar, like writing. I can talk to you about short stories and books all day long. Pillows are another thing entirely.

Somewhere, I missed out on the domestic DNA. My mother loves to decorate, my sister is in school to be a interior designer. But the idea of creating a colorful holiday table or coordinated living room accessories simply does not connect in my brain. I get fire up over pictures, scrapbooks, photo shoots, dancing......not candles. And I try. The sad part is I really do try, and all that happens is a half-hazard attempt at an cozy and sophisticated home. Honestly, I have an idea of what I want my house to look like--I simply don't want to put the effort into making it that way. I wish I could simply wave a wand and have it appear. I get no joy out of the creative process of creating of home.

Frankly, just discussing it is making me uncomfortable. I'm going to go swim now, and avoid the magazines taunting me in my magazine holder. While my home still may scream "new adults!", at least I'll have a nice tan.

Maybe I can hire my mother and mother-in-law to do my home...............................

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Arguing with Birds... again

As I walked around the building, I saw two brown and grey streaked birds splashing in a large muddle puddle. One of the birds saw me and indignantly shouted, "Excuse me, this is our lake!"

"That's not a lake," I said, smiling down at the birds. "That's a puddle."

"No, it's a lake," one of the birds said, fluttering his wings in the water. "It's a lake with worming."

"Worming?" I asked, confused.

"Worm!" the second bird cried, diving into the puddle. He emerged seconds later clutching a struggling worm in his beak. The bird rapidly fluttered his wings as he tried to eat the worm, crying, "Worm worm worm! Wormy wormy worm!" Finally, he managed swallow the worm and hopped out of the lake, where he arrogantly shook his feathers. He looked at me and said haughtily, "Worm."

"Worm," I agreed, trying not to laugh.

"That's worming," the first bird informed me, staying in the puddle.

"Worming isn't a word," I said as the second bird pecked around the field of mud and grass.

"Is too," said the bird, who has lost interest in finding his own worm to argue with me. He hopped out of the lake and pecked the ground for a moment before he hopped back into the puddle. Once in the puddle, he began to flutter his wings wildly.

"Why do you do that?" I asked, my brow wrinkling.

"I'm swimming!" he informed me as he hopped back out of the lake. "You can't go swimming--it's my lake!"

"Worm worm worm!" cried the second bird, spying another worm. He began to run across the field as it flopped wildly in his beak, crying, "Wormy wormy worm."

"Give me that worm!" shrieked the first bird as he chased the second bird. "Gimme the worm!"

"Mine mine mine!" the second bird howled as he ran, swallowing the worm in bits as he fought to catch the falling worm bits. "Mine mine mine mine!"

During the struggle, another bird circled the puddle over head. The first bird gasped.

"My lake!" he cried, running towards the puddle. "My lake my lake my lake!" He squawked loudly at the intruding bird, who flew away.

"Why didn't you just share the puddle? I asked, feeling sorry for the dejected bird who flew away. The first bird fluttered his wings rapidly in the puddle and replied snidely, "Lakes with worming are quite exclusive. Not everyone gets them."

"Even if it's a puddle," I mumbled as I began to walk away. The bird howled in response, "Lake!" A few steps later, I heard his triumphant "Worm!" as he dove in the puddle, along with his victorious rapid thrashing of his wings. The only thing the birds like more than their worming is to argue.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beauty and Light

Vie Dunn Harr, artist, stands by one of her favorite works in her studio.

Over the past couple of days, I'd been feeling a bit blue. I had read a disturbing book where the first scene described a man who had been killed and was found clutching various anatomy parts in his hand and ended in middle-aged politicians engaged in a gang-banging ring. Luckily, I had ordered some books from and two had come in. I dove into one, eager to forget graphic murders, betrayal and gang-banging.

Well, the book decided to take things a different direction. The second chapter killed off the woman's husband, in the third she was raped and the fourth discovered she was carrying her rapist's baby and she tried to throw herself down the stairs. Normally, I finish everything I read, no matter how weird or disturbing it is just because I have to know what happens. Not this book. I quietly put it away in the corner, not wanting to look at it.

Being the Blonde Duck in her Pink Bubble, I don't deal with darkness well. I don't like reading about tragedy and violence in women's fiction or romance stories. If I wanted to read violence, I'd pick up a novel off the fiction list. Perhaps I'm not normal in my rejection of darkness and sorrow. I know it exists, and I know it's healthy to exist. Light and darkness have to have a balance. However, it seems that most people tend to focus on the dark and negative things in life rather than the positive.

In my writing, there is a hint of negativity in the form of betrayal, lying or conflict, such as two people fighting. However, no one is ever killed, raped or violently beaten. When I first started writing, I tried to tap into all the dark and "real" stuff people say you're supposed to explore. I couldn't do it. I'm too much of a happy person to write about that, and I don't necessarily think I should. I think there's enough people out there to do it for me. Over the past few days while I've struggled to exorcise the darkness from my head, I realized my goal is to write happy stories for both women and children. I want to write fairy tales for adults and young adults to relate to. I want to show girls discovering themselves, women revealing in their strengths with or without a prince and small towns with hilarious personalities. I want my characters to be wild and zany, while touching and heartwarming.

Luckily, my fog was lifted when I met Vie Dunn Harr today. I interviewed her for work and went over to her house to take pictures. The second I met her, I knew that I was welcome. When a person meets another person, their consciences are the ones really doing the talking. Some times, you meet a person that you automatically connect to, and I felt that I connected to her. We understood each other. We talked in her studio for 2 and a half hours, and I admired her beautiful oil paintings. She's a smart and vibrant woman, and shares my strong creative strength. It's so nice for someone to understand your drive and need for your passion that so many un-creative people don't understand. You feel validated, like, "Ok, I'm not crazy for getting up at 4:30 just to write 5 pages!" We talked about husbands, art, people and everything in between. Even when I left, I felt there was much more to say.

The best part about Vie is her energy and positivity for life. She told me that an art critic in Germany once told her that she had to incorporate darkness into her paintings or it wasn't real. She told him that it was real and that there were enough people painting darkness in the world. When he said that there would never be a place for her work, she said that she would create one.
How can you not be impressed by that?

Vie paints beautiful portraits of flowers and abstracts. They are full of color and rich in exquisite technique and form. Just to look at them fills you with awe and appreciation for the beauty and nature around us. I don't care what the critics say--I agree with Vie. Life is about beauty and life, and too short to focus on the dark around us. After all, what is more beautiful than a delicate lily or iris in stunning colors? Nothing!

To see Vie's work, visit It's absolutely gorgeous!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Invasion of the Critters

Along with the sunshine and lazy days, summer brings an abundance of critters. They're back!

First, it started with the son of Fuzzy. Fuzzy, the famous inhabitant of the flower pot near the door, was a genetic freak. Bug spray, chalk, rain, sun and slamming glass doors were no match for Fuzzy. Everytime we thought he was a goner, he would appear on the screen door, taunting us with his immortality. So Ben stepped up his game. Fuzzy was thrown over the fence, into the neighbor's yard, into the trash can and into the street. It didn't even phase him. He'd be back two hours later, laughing through the glass at our feeble attempts to save him from a slow and painful death.

After the second or third round of heavy-duty bug spray, Fuzzy finally met his match. However, he left a little surprise for us--a slew of his descendants, all who frequent the same flower pot. Now, anywhere from two to three Fuzzies can be seen lounging on our glass door. It's rather comforting, actually, to wake up to a black and white arachnid glaring at you with his several eyes.

"Yo!" you can imagine him bellowing through the screen. "Where's my bugs? What's the deal? I've only had some gnats and a cricket. You trying to put me on a diet?"

While the Fuzzies have cleansed our back porch, our own collection of Little Fat Birds have kept our yard insect free. Ben has taken up spying through our back door to watch the Little Fat Birds collect on the fence. The Little Fat Birds totter on our wooden fence, eyeballing our grass thoughtfully. Their Little Fat Heads peer from side to side, searching for the worm of their choice. They turn to each other and coo, then lazily float down and peck throughout the yard.

Little Fat Bird 1: "What do you feel like today?"
Little Fat Bird 2: "I think I'll go with Earthworms. I had flys yesterday."
Little Fat Bird 1: "Flys are so fattening for you."
Little Fat Bird 2: "But they're soooo good!"

Luckily, our flowers attract kindly and beautiful floating friends. Butterflies and hummingbirds love to visit our pink flower clusters, drinking greedily before moving on. It's like happy hour for the beautiful people of the insect word. The butterflies tend to linger more than the hummingbirds, who rather sound like a coffee junkie.

"GivemegivemegivemegivemegivemegivemeNECTAR! Nownownownownownwonow! Ineedneedneedneedabuzz!"

Surprisingly, the caterpillars at Starbuck's are much more mellow, even though they are in close proximity to caffinated beverages. A pale green with yellow hair sticking out wildly around them, they slowly crawl around the white letters on the sign. Their job is to help the other insects order off the menu. For example:

Caterpillar 1: "Starbucks on Bandera. This is Callie. How may I help you?"
Jittery Wasp: "I need something to keep me awake for the rest of my life. What do you suggest?"
Caterpillar 2: "Try our bark cappuccino. It'll keep you alive for 2 days."
Jittery Wasp: "Perfect!"
Caterpillar 1: "Honey or Nectar?"
Jittery Wasp: "Nectar."
Caterpillar 2: "How many packets?"
Jittery Wasp: "2. Hey, ya'll are really fuzzy, aren't you?"
Caterpillar 1: "And you're really brown. $1.69 at the window. Please pull around."

Last but not least, let us not forget the pillbugs. The darling pillbugs who tend to curl into the fetal position whenever they're scared, nervous, angry or sad. Which happens to be all the time. The pillbugs have invaded the city, littering doorways, sidewalks and porches with their tiny grey bodies. We like the pillbugs.

So don't even bother locking your doors, sealing your windows or burning the citronella candles. No matter what you do, the gnats will circle your bananas, the flies will circle your home and Fuzzy Jr. will stare at you through your glass patio. Don't worry--it's just the invasion of the summer critters!

Happy Father's Day Daddy and Frank!

Friday, June 15, 2007


Lately, there's been only one thing on my mind. It's been taunting me, calling me. Just the idea of it is enough to get me through the long summer days and dry air conditioning of the office. Once or twice a week after I get home from work, I step in the house and sigh in relief. It's time to go swimming.

Of course, my love of the cool water isn't enough to keep me from whining, complaining and sighing heavily when getting in. The hardest part of swimming isn't moving throughout the water, it's initially getting wet. Even when it's over 100 degrees outside, diving in that water can still be a shock. A shock that for some reason I try to minimize by dragging out as long as possible. Don't ask me to explain--I never said I was logical.

My favorite thing about summer is being able to dive into the pool anytime I wish--hot afternoons, warm evenings with the sun setting in the sky and even the mild humid mornings. I even researched floatable laptop stands and waterproof laptops, hoping I could set up shop in the pool. So far, no luck.

So with such a wonderful place to relax, I should be sliding into the pool every night. Here's the problem: I only have two swimsuits, and I despise washing them.

"Excuse me!" the Invisible Friends shout. "Duh, it's not that hard to wash a swimsuit. Get over it."

Fine, I'll admit it. I just want a new bikini. Yes, the dreaded bikini, the clothing most women run shrieking from. And it's for good reason--very few women look good in bikinis.

"Excuse me!" the Invisible Friends shout. "You're a size 6! You make us sick! Go have three babies and try to wear a bikini! You think you have cellulite now--just wait!"

Well, that is true, I have to admit. I am in good shape and have a good figure. And I still don't look good in most bikinis. Let's just say the term udders comes to mind when I check out most top selections. According to T.V., magazines, and dozens of fashion designers, finding a bikini guaranteed to lift, separate and flatter shouldn't be hard. These people live in a bigger bubble than I ever thought of creating. If you flatter your chest, you don't do justice to your rear. If you flatter your real, your chest is flopping everywhere like a dead fish. And don't even get me started on thongs.

The real reason we should hate bikinis is because the French invented them. The same people that invented tasty little treats like French Fries, French Toasts, quiches, dozens of tarts and pastries, certain cakes and quiche wants us all to wear a creation essentially made out of shoe string and a kleenex. Yet--we should still be able to indulge and eat like the French, focusing on quality versus quality. Excuse me, 1 piece of French Toast is not quality, it's a tease. I need two or three before I'm happy. Don't even get me started on quiches--my cholesterol is trembling in fear at the mention of them.

However, there is a way to escape the self-indulgent and insecure world of fashion. It's called swimming. After one dip into that cool oasis of water as you slowly glide through, and you don't care if you're wearing a wet suit or a bikini. You just care about the water gliding over your muscles as you swim across the bottom of the pool like a frog. A pool is a very relaxing thing. I've got to go--it's calling me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ben and the Tarantula

Driving up the winding hillside, we all peered out the window looking at the enormous homes dotting the rocky landscape. As my husband narrated our tour, we murmured comments about the grand architecture and lush landscaping. Turning left, we continued up the hill in a section of the subdivision labeled "Estates". These homes were not only gigantic with lush landscaping, they each had several acres to call their own and were deep set into their property with winding landscapes.

The view over the rolling hills and city was spectacular, allowing us to see far into the horizon. Looking over the city below us, we pressed our noses to the glass tightly as if it would let us see farther.

Suddenly, Ben slammed the car to a stop.

"What?" my mother cried, lurching forward. "What is it? Did you hit something?"

"What are you doing?" my irritable sister groused.

Ben was staring reverently out the windshield. "It's a tarantula!"

"A tarantula?" mother questioned.

"A tarantula?" my sister panicked.

"Where's he at?" I asked curiously.

"He's right there," Ben cooed, watching the tarantula happily. Suddenly he looked at me and grinned. "I wanna touch him."

Rolling my eyes, I said, "Oh you always want to touch everything!"

"You can't touch them!" my mother cried, backing away from the window. "They jump!"

"Don't they bite?" my sister asked.

"I'm going to go touch them," Ben grinned wickedly, rushing out of the car. Leaving the door open, the car running and the air conditioning blaring, he crept over to investigate the tarantula who was scurrying to the other side of the road.

"Isn't he cute?" Ben cooed. "He's so fuzzy!" He reached down with a finger to touch the spider, who began to run faster.

"Gross," my sister said, making a face out the window. "We should kill him."

"Don't kill him," my mother said. "They're good. They eat other bugs."

"And small birds," I said.

"He's just so cute!" Ben said, enraptured with the spider. "Isn't he cute?"

"It's going to rain," I said. "Dad always says when the tarantula's come out it's going to rain."

"It's going to jump and get him," my mom said ominously.

"Why does he like a dump spider?" my sister sighed, rolling her eyes and playing with her cell phone.

Ben, oblivious to our conversation, continued to coo and wave at the spider happily. "Hello! How are you?" he asked it. The spider didn't respond and continued to scramble over to the other side of the road.

"Let's take it's picture!" Ben exclaimed happily. He borrowed my sister's camera and began to snap pictures of the spider, instructing it to hold still and turn slightly to the right. The spider ignored him and continued his rapid crawl to the other side of the street, only stopping once or twice to stare up at him with his beady little eyes.

Ben watched him as he scurried to the curb and stopped. The spider gingerly tried to crawl up the curb and promptly slid down. He stared at the curb for awhile.

"Oh no!" Ben cried. "He's stuck!" The spider tried once more to crawl up the curb and decided he did not like that idea. Quickly, he began scurrying down along the curb to a driveway about five feet away.

"I need to help the spider," Ben decided. Open-mouthed, I watched through the open car door as he selected a large thick stick and leaned it against the curb. The spider crawled up to the stick and carefully tried to climb up it. He decided he did not like the stick either, and continued on his journey to the driveway.

"It's fine," Mom said, now watching in fascinated horror. "Leave it alone, it'll go up the driveway."

"It's stuck!" Ben cried, determined to save his new fuzzy friend. "I have to save him!"

"Miranda, what the hell did you do to him?" Danielle asked, raising an eyebrow as she looked at me.

"It's cute," I said, grinning madly as I tried not to giggle. Ben was gingerly trying to pick up the spider with two sticks held as far from his body as he could manage. The spider was trying to attack the sticks and was hissing angrily. He threw himself from the sticks and jumped towards Ben, hissing in attack mode.

"He's hissing!" Danielle cried.

"He jumped!" Mom gasped. "He's going to attack! Get away!"

"I don't think he liked that," Ben said mildly. Undeterred, he tried several more times to rescue the ungrateful spider, who only hissed and jumped more in response. Ben was so hurt by the spider's rejection he threw his sticks down.

"Fine," he haughtily told the spider as he climbed back in the car. "Be stuck on the curb. See if I care."

Trying not to laugh, we sat quietly as we drove down the hill. Behind us, the spider watched our departing car for a few seconds. Then he quickly turned and began to crawl back to the open driveway.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Nameless Burgers

At the burger joint, people were gathered around to feast on the tasty burgers. Mothers and fathers bit into thick patties and luscious buns while small children piled french fries and M&Ms onto their smaller patties doused in ketchup and mustard, grinning with mayonnaise streaked smiles. They were the most famous burgers in town.

"Son," Father Angus, the eldest and most respected burger in the restaurant at 15 minutes old, "Being a burger in this restaurant is a privilege. You're made of the finest ingredients and grilled on the sleekest cooktop around. Perhaps someday you will achieve the status of being Rare like me."

"Oh father," the younger burger said, "I am only a medium well. Very few ever achieve rare status! I don't know that I could do as well as you can."

"Nonsense," the burger said, plumping up with pride and butter. "You come from a long line of respected burgers. I know you will make me proud. Are you ready?"

"I'm ready," the young burger said, trying not to show his nervousness as a spatula lifted him up into the air and onto a bun.

"Good luck, son!" his father cried as he was placed into a basket. "I wish you well!"

When he was placed on the counter, the chef looked at the baskets. "Hmmm," she said. Grabbing the microphone, she announced, "I have three nameless burgers, I have three nameless burgers."

The younger burger wanted to die. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" his father screamed from the grill. "Son, why have you brought dishonor to your family? How could you be nameless? That is the worst sin of being a burger! Our entire purpose is to serve those who love hamburgers, and you have failed!"

"I did not do it!" the young burger protested. "She can't read the basket right. There's a tag right there!"

"Twirl son!" the older burger yelled. "Twirl for your family!" The burger twisted and turned with all his might, and succeeded into flipping the basket around. Another worker walked up and looked at the basket. "Johann!" he yelled. "The name was right here." Grabbing the microphone, he announced, "I have an order for Bob. I have an order for Bob."

"You did it son!" his father cried proudly, weeping in joy. "You restored honor to the family name! I'm so proud of you!"

"Thank you father!" the burger cried as a man picked up his basket.

After all, a nameless burger is as much of a burger with a name.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Bumbling Butterfly

Smacking into my chest, the delicate creature looked up at me.

"Hello," the befuddled butterfly said. "Are you a flower?"

"No," I said, trying not to smile. "I'm a person."

"I thought so," the butterfly said. "You seemed a bit tall to be a flower. And I couldn't smell any nectar."

"Which flower did you want to see?" I asked.

"I don't remember," the butterfly said, sounding confused. "I believe it was a blue one."

I looked at the grass around me. "I don't see any blue ones. I see some yellow and white ones, but no blue."

"Perhaps it was pink," the butterfly said, his antennae waving wildly. "Oh dear, oh dear..."

As the butterfly fretted over what flower he wanted to visit, another butterfly landed lightly on my shoulder.

"I was wondering when you were going to come back," I smiled.

"You could say I've never left," the butterfly ventured.

"You haven't spoken to me in awhile," I said. "I've missed it."

"You haven't needed me," the butterfly said, gently brushing against my cheek. "Not like he does now."

"Do you only come when you're needed?" I asked. "What other reason is there?" the butterfly asked. "Fun, companionship, conversation," I listed. "At times," the butterfly allowed. "At times I do. Now that it's summer, it's much easier."

"Easier to do what?" I asked. The confused butterfly bumped into my elbow. "Excuse me," he asked politely. "I can not find my pink flower."

"Why don't you try a yellow or white flower?" I asked. "I don't see any pink ones."

"Because I want pink," the butterfly said patiently. "I was sure it was here."

"It's not," I said. "Why not try a white flower? You may like it."

"No, thank you," the visibly confused butterfly said as it continued to wind between my legs.

The butterfly and I continued to watch his friend bumble about through the grass, excusing himself to other insects and the cement curb as he bumped into them.

"Why is he so confused?" I asked. "He seems like he's having a lot of trouble. Why doesn't he just go to the white flower? Why the pink?"

"Why indeed?" the butterfly asked, touching my face gently with his wings. "Why does one strive for something, even when others tell him another option is better? You could ask yourself the same thing."

"That's different," I said. "Is it?" the butterfly asked pointedly. "How is it different when you strive for something and others tell you to settle for something else?"

He brushed by my eyelids, causing them to quiver like his own wings. "No one can be happy if they spend their time chasing something they don't want. And he wants a pink flower."

Nodding my head, I bent down by the bumbling butterfly who was muttering to himself. "I'll help you find a pink flower," I told him as he crawled onto a pale white flower. "There may be some up front."

"No thank you," the butterfly said happily as he began to drink. "I found one after all!"

I stared at him, quite confused. "This is a white flower," I said. "You wanted pink."

"And I found pink," the butterfly said cheerfully. "I told you it was around here."

"But this is white," I said, struggling to explain it to him. "This is a white flower." The butterfly looked down at the glaring white petals and shrugged. "Looks pink to me!" He began to drink in the nectar joyfully. As I stared dumbfounded, the second butterfly landed on my other shoulder.

"Sometimes," he said, "White is pink after all." Before I could protest, he took flight into the clear blue sky until I could no longer see him. Smiling to myself, I went back inside. Perhaps many things aren't always what they seem.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Yet another editorial

As usual, here at work I became enraged over scrolling through the news and was prompted to write an editorial for the medical newspaper I edit. This time, I became enraged over the New Jersey health department considering including warnings whether a child is obese in their report card. So dear Invisible Friends, please comment away. I'd love to hear what you think.

Still annoyed,

The Blonde Duck

Should the government tell your kid he’s fat?

When I first read about New Jersey ‘s health department creating a office of health and nutrition to battle obesity in children, I thought it was a good thing. As I read about their goals to provide education and instill healthy habits and knowledge of normal portion sizes in children, I was thrilled. When I saw plans to promote exercise, provide fruits and veggies to both women and children, and breast feeding, I was ecstatic.

Then I saw something less cheerful and PR-friendly. The article distributed by the Associated Press states that Dr. Fred Jacobs, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Senior services, is considering sending out report cards informing parents their children have a weight problem. This is after Dr. Jacobs reportedly stated: “I want to do (reduce portion sizes) without creating a further stigma on individual people,” Jacobs said. “It’s bad enough when you’re fat that people think less of you. I don’t want the government piling on.”

Hold on. Excuse me, isn’t sending out a report card telling parents their kid is fat just as bad? I’m sure they’d phrase it in non-committal language such as, “Due to our health guide recommendations, we believe you might possibly want to look into the theory that your child might be overweight.” Still, who is the government to tell parents their child is fat? If their child is fat, don’t you think the parents know it? Sure, they may be in denial and call their child “big-boned” or claim he hasn’t grown out of his baby fat, but that’s not the government’s decision. That is between the parent, the doctor and the child.

The problem isn’t in the kindly state government’s concern about obese children and parent’s lack of nutritional knowledge—it’s about the level of involvement. When do we as parents and adults step up and say, “This is my fault, not the government’s fault.” Instead, we as people naturally blame everything else that could possibly be the cause of a rapidly growing obese nation. We accuse school luncheon programs of being fattening and full of sodium, remove vending machines and pizza sponsors meant for a treat and still stop at Wendy’s on the way home after work. It’s the fast food people’s fault, it’s Keebler’s fault for making cookies, it’s Krispy Kreme’s fault for making donuts.

Get over it. It’s your fault. The government has no responsibility to keep you from making yourself or your kid fat. The government has a responsibility to provide schools (though not exceptional schools), a public transportation system (again, not necessarily good) and adequate water and city facilities. They have the responsibility to provide that because WE as a country of individuals decided that over 200 years ago.

The irresponsibility and blame-placing people have developed is terrifying because it opens a Pandora’s box of laws that will lock down our free will as a democracy. Texans flipped out when Rick Perry tried to pass a bill forcing young girls to get cervical cancer vaccines because it overrode a parent’s decision to decide whether or not their child should get it. He claimed he was trying to save their lives, they worried he was condoning pre-marital sex in teens. The overwhelming fact is it was voted down because it negated the parents’ right to choose.

Even if this decision might take place in New Jersey, the point is if it happens in one place, it could happen in another. It is up to us as individuals to step up and admit to our faults. It is our fault we’re fat; it’s our fault our kids are fat. And we don’t need the government or anyone not in a white coat with a stethoscope to tell us that. Because once the government can tell us we’re fat and we need to lose weight, what else can they tell us to do?