Posted in humor, social commentary, Uncategorized

The Politics of Suck

                                        the art of language 2

I’m back at the desk after a heartwarming visit with family.  Slowly but surely, the work gets done.

This week I’m focusing on language. How do you use language? Do you write differently from the way you speak? Habits of formality, usually relegated to the workplace, allow casual speaking  on breaks, at home, and in the streets. Or, that’s the way it used to be. Nobody likes the speech police and everything has changed. Journaling allows it all, and seemingly, so does TV language, including bad phrasing with slang included and expected.

I can remember a discussion we had with the kids around the kitchen table back in the mid-80’s.  We lived in some of the most gorgeous countryside in the world, the oak and redwood- studded northern California mountains, an hour’s drive from the sparkling Pacific Ocean. We did not have TV reception back then, but we watched movies. Our family sweetly escaped the invasion of the video game empire, and not because we forced them out. We just ignored them.  Our kids played hard. They rode bikes, ran around outside, did sports, swam, made crafts, tended to animals, rode horses, and skated. They learned how to garden and they did chores. Blissful? Almost.

So that night we gazed out the kitchen window and started a dialogue on what language was suitable for home use.  For some reason the offender was the S-word, “suck” probably after one of them was told it time to help with the dishes.

“That sucks.”

 Far from conservative, we considered ourselves to be middle-of-the-road progressives. We voted, paid taxes, mowed the lawn when necessary, volunteered with community organizations. We rubbed elbows with the mayor and the car wash dude.  We knew what rules we wanted our children to follow and polite language was part of the mix, at least within earshot.

However, on the politics of suck, we were left in the dust and suck won.

Now on mainstream media you hear phrases such as, “a ton” to denote “many.”  I heard one commentator say “there are a ton of websites on pool safety,” for example.  I’m out. You win. It sucks, but I get it. And, I’ll get over it.

Formality is gone and the familiar is in.

Happy Journaling!

collage by Susan E. Rowland

Posted in humor, social commentary, Uncategorized

The Art of Being an April Fool: an Irreverent Mystic Looks at Life


Everyone’s biggest fear is appearing foolish. Comedians take this fear to the edge of the cliff and push us off. Other entertainers use shock value stretching tolerance to the limits. Yawn. I wonder how far an entertainer can push the edges of any topic leaving the audience gasping and clutching at their sides over a punchline. What we secretly find hilarious, everything from farts to slipping on a banana peel, to an erupting pimple on a first date is fair game for comedy writers and weary folks.

We’re terrified of losing control. Advertising capitalizes on our trepidation around being ignorant or not cool as American society stays in a seeming state of perpetual adolescence. We fearful fools hand over our hard earned dollars for products promising youth, beauty, thinness, rock hard abs, admiration, status, enlightenment, lower interest rates, and enormous wealth. Everyone has those little products tucked away underneath the bathroom sink or in the refrigerator with the vitamins. It’s the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

Late night talk show hosts ridicule everybody. If you make everyone else laugh then nobody will focus on you. Executives know that tapping into our terror will pay. We are the phobia fools because we’re all about anti-aging, showing off bikini bodies, owning the newest product, erasing fine lines and wrinkles, and never being stupid. Flawless!

                                                               bif muscles

Attend a meeting with the most highly educated or erudite types and you will hear souls crack for fear of not being intelligent.

Apprehension and stress is ever-present even for those of us in secure lifestyles. We might be working normal jobs or unemployed. We might be living out a big adventure or living predictable, perfect, schlocky lives. The theme of dealing with dread is the realm of writers, great actors, directors,  shrinks, clergy people, film crews, and cynics.

One time while browsing through family photos, my high profile cousin Stan* quickly pushed aside a picture of his father clowning for the camera. Almost in horror he wanted nothing to do with levity or silliness as if to say, “I’m too important to be silly. I don’t want to be associated with the ridiculous. I work too hard for that. Get this out of my sight.” Even though our highly esteemed uncle had passed on, my cousin’s grim thought of being less than perfect caused great alarm. The idea of wilted dignity caused him distress even in a private setting. I felt sorry for him for a moment.

So what are we all so afraid of? Rejection? You’re right. People kill over it. Being dumped into the lower realms of the financial food chain? It’s possible.

I know I’m vain in the sense that nearly six decades of living are showing on my face. Who cares? I already know I take myself way too seriously. It’s only because I’m not Type A. I’m totally Type B, a scanner, and very concerned about social and political issues. My husband and grown kids tip me off when I’m being too stiff or opinionated, thank goodness. But of course, I’m always right.

The fear of being silly photo event taught me a big lesson. I’m grateful for the ridiculous. When we meet St. Peter at the pearly gates, if there is such a thing, the high salaried folks ain’t gettin’ in ahead of the Walmart clerk.

“The planet doesn’t need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” The Dalai Lama

*Name, gender and relationship changed to protect the innocent.