Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why I'm Voting and Why I'm Voting for Mitt

(alternate title: This is my Blog and I Suppose I Can Write About What's Important to Me)

Before 2007, I didn't think Christians should use their Christian morality in the voting booth because I thought it would be unfair. But then I learned that wasn't true, and here's why I believe it isn't:

1. Every single law, right down to funding the public library, is based on a morality. Every law says we should do X and we shouldn't do Y. Welfare is based on the morality that we should help those in need. Banning super-sized sodas is based on the morality that we have to help the obese not be so obese - and further, that obesity is bad. If you don't vote based on your Christian morality, which by definition, we as Christians believe is the correct one - another morality will win out.

2. There are many examples, in both Old and New Testaments, of the importance God places on politics. Leviticus is an obvious example, but I like the New Testament example of John the Baptist confronting King Herod to tell him he was doing wrong. (See Mark 6.) Clearly we are not meant to separate ourselves from society to such an extent that we give ourselves no say in our culture's direction.

3. Jesus said to give to Caesar what is Caesar's. In our case, our 'Caesar' is a democracy - which demands participation.

4. Part of believing God is all Good is believing that God's will is what's best for us. That's why I can, with confidence and the utmost of compassion, vote that His will be done in our society.

Now that I believe I should vote, here's a few reasons why I'm voting for Mitt Romney.

1. The Economy
     I don't own a small business or a business of any size, actually, but I know things are not going well. They are not better than they were 4 years ago. I have a few key points here. The first is that in February of 2009, President Obama told Matt Lauer that if he didn't turn the economy around in 3 years, he would be a one-term president. That speaks for itself. (Here's the video.)

    Secondly, I do happen to work in the health insurance world in HR for a private company, and I can tell you firsthand how unbelievably, infuriatingly CRIPPLING Obamacare has already been. Companies need legal teams just to give them an idea of what the heck this behemoth is. Insurance rates have already increased because insurance companies are preparing for a mass exodus coming down the pike, which isn't good for anyone. This thing is an economic nightmare.

  Third, Mitt Romney has a very successful, very impressive economic record. I know we're inexplicably in the business now of finding economically successful people to be morally inferior (a bit judgmental, no?) but I'm not on that train. We can't hold "small businesses" to be of the highest moral fiber and then call a big businesses a monster. Big businesses are small businesses that grew big. That's just physics. Or chemistry? I haven't taken science since high school.

  Either way, economic and business savvy play a role in this election - a lot larger of a role than in the past, even. Mitt Romney has been successful in those areas. Obama didn't have business experience before his presidency and he most certainly has failed in this area since he took office.

2. Foreign Affairs/Policy
   The handling of the situation in Libya has made Obama impeachable. President Obama refused requests for additional security to a Middle Eastern embassy - on 9/11.  Then, when the embassy was attacked, and he knew it was an attack, he spent two weeks pretending it was a spontaneous mob reacting to a video that some "vile" American made (but "Piss Christ" deserves National Endowment money?). Then he doubled-back and said it was an attack. Now we know that the administration had real-time intelligence of the attack as it was going on, and someone denied military support. 4 Americans were killed, including our ambassador. Obama went to Las Vegas the next day to campaign. This reads like a very bad, very tasteless crime novel, doesn't it? If only it were fiction.
   Additionally, President Obama's unwillingness to call terrorism terrorism and to recognize the threat of Islam is just embarrassing and useless. If the overwhelming majority of recent terrorist attacks were committed by Islamic jihadists, supposing that the next attack is likely to be committed by a Muslim is not racial profiling, it's actual profiling. (To steal a line from Saul in Homeland. XOXO Saul call me.) It's statistical intelligence. The Muslim threat is real and we need a President who acknowledges it, or I'm afraid we'll ignore it. To our needless peril.

  One more caveat - investigating why or how or when we offended terrorists is the most backwards foreign policy stance I've ever had the misfortune of witnessing. Since when do we assign logic to insane, hateful, violent people? 

3. Abortion
  If fetuses weren't human, I'd be pro-choice, but with hesitation and sadness, because I believe (and have seen) that abortion is harmful to women. But fetuses are human. When two humans reproduce, they don't produce a lizard or a spider or a frog, they produce a human. Developing fetuses differ from born human beings in only 4 ways: Size, Level of Development, Environment, and Degree of Dependency. Born humans also differ from each other in these four ways, yet we don't call someone who is small or who has a less-developed brain than someone older than them "less human." There is no difference between a fetus and a born human that doesn't fit into these categories.

  If it's a human, our society has already made the decision on whether it's legal to kill it. It's not.

  If it's a human, this is genocide.

  If this is genocide, and I don't vote with this in mind - well, I don't want to be that type of person.

  The fact is, the next pres. is most likely going to appoint 2-3 Supreme Court Justices. That's where abortion comes into play.

4. Empowering those in poverty
  In college, Aaron and I volunteered at a homeless shelter/community outreach program called Good Works. Good Works took a radical approach to the problem of homelessness, and it's changed my outlook permanently. We need to care for the afflicted, and caring for them means empowering them. Coming alongside them, helping them through their emergency, and equipping them with tools to dig their way out. We don't empower those struggling with poverty by giving them two years of unemployment benefits. We don't empower people with handouts.  That degrades people; it stomps on their dignity. Moreover, it empowers people who want to take advantage of the system.

  However, sometimes handouts are necessary - food, shelter, money, clothing, medicine, etc. That's where we come in - the church, neighbors, the proverbial WE. Getting less take-home pay because the government thinks it can help the poor better than I can is a real source of high blood pressure for me. And probably the reason I eat so much chocolate. Let me keep my money, and I'll show you how much farther it can go.

  I know not everybody helps like they should. But we were founded as a country that said it would be home to both responsible citizens and lazy assholes, and that's our identity, for better or worse. Giving that up would cost much more than it would 'help.'  The very loveliness and essence of giving is destroyed when it's forced - and it's absolutely perverted when it's forced by an embarassingly incompetent government.

5. Our Leader's Attitude
  Obama thinks he's smarter than you. He thinks (pretends to think) that he is better at loving people than you. He thinks he's cooler than you and that he can handle your money and your sexual life and your healthcare better than you can. This is not how leaders lead. This is how cult masters manipulate. I'm tired of it and I'm embarrassed of him.


Talk to me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weather Philosophy Revisited; Sorry Everyone

When I was in elementary and middle school, I was an altar girl. They always had to save the shortest white robe for me. I liked the way the priest washed his hands before breaking the communion. Our priest always did it very slowly, with his lips moving in prayer. That's one of those things that you find so inexplicably beautiful at the time, but you don't know why, and thinking about it too hard might ruin it, so you just let it be beautiful. You know?

Anyway, the couple that "trained" the altar kids at my Catholic school held a "server appreciation party" for us every year at Halloween. They lived on this giant farm outside of Louisville, with a huge barn and rustic decor and a cornfield. The Halloween decorations were always spot-on and they had a huge bonfire and hay rides and carmel apples and everything Pinterest could ever want.

When I think of those parties now, I feel an actual ache. In my memories of them the sky is in a permanent state of dusk, blanketed in gray clouds; there's always a chilly breeze; a dog howling somewhere. Realistically it was probably just a bunch of 10-year-olds with sticky hands eating tootsie roll pops at 4 in the afternoon, but it still felt like magic.

So much more magic than today. Sunny, 80-degree today; with a slight breeze bending the palm trees. There are pumpkins on porches but I think they're embarrassed to be there.

(Honestly, how many times am I going to write about the weather? Somebody get me a xanax, am I right?!?!?! I MEAN!)

But you know what it is about weather? It's not the weather itself. It's the fact that it changes. Phoenix is nicknamed the "valley of the sun" because the sun shines over 300 days a year here. When I first moved here I marveled at that and tried to figure out why EVERYONE doesn't live here. (The margaritas alone make it worth it, maybe.) But then I realized I was in the middle of a very Lois Lowry-esque novel, where the thing you think is great turns out to be super creepy, and you start to realize WHY no one else lives here, but you're late to the party? And then the thing you thought was really a really great secret is not actually great at all but the impetus to your imminent destruction?

300 sunny days a year make it feel like Groundhog Day, is what I'm saying. I don't feel a day older than the day I moved here three years ago because it still feels like that same day. Same season, same everything. Dead lawns, high cooling bills. What am I doing here? Have I done anything? I need some damn rain so that I can know I'm moving forward. Towards what - I have no idea, but as long as it's not February 2nd again, I don't have to panic. You know?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


They are how you become A Person. Also the only tool you have with which to order a pizza. Respect them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Outside, Creation Groans

Yesterday when I was driving home from yoga I caught a whiff of something outside of my car window and I could feel my eyebrows shoot up in an attempt to NAME. THE. SMELL. "Why is this familiar? Why is it unfamiliar? What is it?" I asked myself. Then, I realized what it was. It was wetness.

Someone was watering their grass. That's the only explanation anyway, because I don't think it's rained for at least a month. I couldn't see the water but it made its way into my veins.

It smelled like wet earth, like a cool breeze with dirt on its fingers.

Immediately I sighed and felt sad, and looked - literally, looked with my eyes - anrigly at the concrete road I was driving on. You're so damn dry! No one likes dryness like that! The road thinks it's a talent to bake so furiously. It's not, its just pointless stubornness.

Inexplicably (but predicatbly?) my mind wandered to Thailand. If I can't be somewhere with naturally wet earth, how is it possible I'm not, then, in Thailand? We went to Ireland a few months ago, which was on my list. Thailand is on my list, too. So is Israel. But as I was smelling the painfully beautiful wet earth and thinking on Thailand, I suddenly realized that I was framing my thoughts a bit differently than I usually do, when they are flying across the oceans. I didn't feel anxious. I didn't feel urgent, or guilty. I didn't feel like the fact that I was driving home in sweat-soaked spandex on a ridiculously cracked-earth road in Phoenix meant I was wasting something. (Time? Me?) That was revolutionary, to start.

Then I saw a woman walking down the sidewalk, with a stroller, and I imagined what her day had been like. Maybe she had been at home all day. Not even a shower to speak of. Was she ok with that? Were her thoughts in Thailand?

And of course I then transposed myself in front of that stroller, with a showerless day behind me, and something clicked. Of course nothing was wasted. There was a little person in front of me that I Gave Up Things for. The world isn't huge, it's tiny. Full of people who either give things up or don't, and I want to be one who gives them up. That's what I was made for. That's how we work. We're not working right now because we're not giving things up.

You would think that the world feeling smaller to me would be sad, or would mean a loss of some kind of dreaminess or innocence. It's not! It's a deep sigh of relief! If me being here means I have Something to give up; Something that someone else needs, then I couldn't waste me if I tried. Thailand or no, the sidewalk of a dry road with a stroller is Thailand and everywhere else. It could be all of me, one day.

It made me think of a beautiful lyric I heard one, from a song I love - "Outside, creation groans..."

The road was groaning, and so was I, because there's so much to do and see and be, and we aren't doing and seeing and being all of them. But! To know that we're groaning for a home that we can have - with a Creator who gave me Things to Give Up - that makes the groaning sweet. Sweet like a sore-muscled sigh after 90 minutes of Bikram.

Monday, October 8, 2012


When I was about 10 or so, I was already in the business of Making Decisions About Who I Wanted to Be. At 10, that was a dancer. Soon after the decision was made, I soberly resigned myself to the idea that if I was going to be a dancer, I would have to dance, so I sad Mom, please? And Mom found me a studio in a town called Minerva, Ohio.

Minerva was, I don't know, like 300 hours from where we lived, or it was 10 minutes; no one can know when you're a kid. Anyway, Mom bought me a leotard and rearranged her schedule for probably the four-hundredth time since I'd begun the soul-search for Who Maria Was, around 8 years old or so. And for a few Tuesdays, we got in the car after school, ate a chicken sandwich from McDonald's, and went to Minerva to dance.

While I was kick-ball-changing in an overly mirrored room for an hour, Mom sat in the van down the street, reading the newspaper and, I don't know, wishing I had been a son? But she sat there every week. Because I wanted to be a dancer.

It took four lessons to figure out that this dance instructor was not as much in the business of teaching the art of dance and helping kids have a good time as she was in the business of dressing us up in the most disturbingly sexy leotards one could find for a group of pre-pubescent ten year olds. One look from my Mom and an earnest "Mom, this leotard gives me wedgies" later, we cancelled my enrollment in the rest of those classes.

I remember driving home from Minerva, pondering what my next life calling would be. It was fall, and "How Do I Live" by LeAnne Rimes was on the radio. It was in between afternoon and night - in Ohio in the fall, there really is no evening - and it was cloudy, as usual. I was mourning the loss of what I had been sure would be my true identity (dancer) and feeling simultaneously angry at my Mom for being a prude and at my dance instructor for wishing wedgies on everyone. You know, your general paradoxical angst. But in the back of my head there was a dull buzzing. A nagging thought. I pushed it away, because though I hadn't defined, it was making me uncomfortable. Guilty.

It was the realization that Mom had Given Up Stuff for this; that she had heard my "I must be a dancer!" cries and said, "Ok, Ria," and did research, and found a studio in Minerva, and signed me up. She sat by herself in a dark car for an hour and ate McDonald's for dinner. Then, when she found out it was the wrong place for me, she did the even harder thing and pulled me out.

To this day, when I hear "How Do I Live" on the radio, my heart shakes and trembles, and I can feel how powerful that is; that nagging thought that grew into Gratitude, and Love, for the most giving, beautiful Mom there has ever been. That song is for you, Mom.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Stuff We've Been Doing and Eating and Looking At

This weekend, Aaron's sister and her husband got here. We went up to Sedona and hiked and wore hats and things. Then we ate at Oaxaca, which, mmmm. Coincidentally, "Oaxaca" (wah-HA-ca) is my favorite word to say in Spanish, and also my favorite restaurant in Sedona at which to eat. It's like, a perfect storm. Just whisper "Oaxaca" and "fish tacos" to me in the same sentence and I'll vote for you for president.

We've also done other fun things during their visit... like go to a Cubs game and grill out carne asada, which is my favorite thing to eat. This post is making me think I maybe have a lot of favorite things to eat?

I also went to two 90-minute sessions of Bikram yoga over the weekend and I am now dying, or becoming undead, I'm not sure. All I know is I need water. All of the water. I'm going back on Tuesday and already I simultaneously regret it and am congratulating myself for it.

In other news, look at this and breathe.

I mean. Really.