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Fox and the Far Right

Conservatives like to point out that when liberals look down their noses at them as imbeciles, this is exactly the reason Republicans won the 2016 election. It was perceived snobby elites vs. the lunch bucket crowd and this time around, the lunch bucket crowd bought the Make America Great Again sales pitch, such as it is.

I’m no literary genius as most of you are keenly aware, so full disclosure up front. I’m a life-long 3.1 student who underachieved in the interest of being a well rounded person with other things to do besides just read books.

I say this because the main theme of this post has to do with just how dumb average Joe Republican has become, but I don’t want to sound like an elitist, because I’m average IQ at best. I just think I’ve given these issues more serious mind-share than most Republicans have and am sharing some observations from my own personal experiences.

The best example of mindless followers are the evangelicals. These people give the pastor full reign over their brains to the point where he can stand at the pulpit and literally say “And the Egyptians used the pyramids for grain silos” while the faithful shake their heads in unison with agreement. There are some highly educated people in this crowd too, so go figure. But when it comes to once they get inside the chapel doors, all critical thinking goes out the window and they morph into sheep.

Fox News is a master exploiter of this level of blind faith / ignorance that exists in the evangelical community. They cater their message in the same way the paster’s do and the sheep get in line.

In the 2016 election, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity should have been credited with an assist for the election victory. Hannity just spews vitriol for 60 minutes and is not a serious journalist but he does have a following and they eat it up. O’Reilly would literally try to use his on-air time to ‘coach’ Trump into managing his campaign in ways that would benefit him. He was not interested in a deep policy probe, it was all about helping frame a strategy that would beat Hillary Clinton. To his credit – and our detriment – he was successful. After today’s news of his unexpected departure from Fox, it’s too little too late. The damage is done.

But my main point is that there is a lack of critical thinking that goes on, especially in the Republican party. I know some pretty smart Republicans and they vote GOP for their own reasons, but they are in the minority. The vast majority are people who are easily fooled into voting against their own self interests. Things like tax cuts for the rich / trick down economics. The American Health Care Act ( Paul Ryan’s baby ). Climate change. Military spending. Women’s health issues. Even though all of these things have been debunked by the experts and will hurt them personally, the Duck Dynasty crowd likes to back the candidate with the GOP moniker. I haven’t been able to figure out other than to resign myself to the dumbing down of America. I ain’t no Robert Reich with a PhD, but I listen to him as well as Dr. Krugman to try to learn from truly smart people. That’s why I can’t get into debating the Duck Dynasty crowd. Colossal waste of time.

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Soapbox to the Tualatin Times circa 1996

The Tualatin Times afforded readers the opportunity to chime in with a Soapbox article — up to 800 words if you were so inclined.  It was basically a format for those who wanted to address a hot topic that warranted more than a “Letter to the Editor”, of which I had written many.  I’ve written a dozen or so Soapbox articles for The Times, but this is one of my better efforts and I would date it back to about 1996 or so.   At the time it was in response to a Letter to the Editor by a frequent conservative member of the community who often wrote bitter, close-minded opinions and I let her have it with both barrels.  I believe there was a reply the next week but I don’t recall it being very convincing.

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A wise man once said “Be careful about what you wish for, it could come true.” A recent letter to the editor “God needed in school more than a survey” suggests that our kids would be better off if only we could revert to the days when God was ever present in our classrooms.

 

Of course the first question is, which God? God as in the Jewish God of Abraham? God as in the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? God as described by the prophet Joseph Smith? The “Jehovah” I’ve read about in The WatchTower? Allah as experienced by the prophet Mohammed?

 

In her best selling book A History of God, respected historian and former Catholic nun Karen Armstrong talks about how man’s idea of God has evolved from a pluralistic form to the modern day monotheistic God at the time of Abraham and Jacob. Jacob, ever a pragmatist, cut a deal with the God “El”. In exchange for much needed protection, Jacob agreed to worship El as the one and only God that mattered. Is this the God we’re talking about?

 

We have a cross section of all of these belief systems right here in Tualatin. Surely someone who would suggest God be re-instated back into the classroom would want to be inclusive of their neighbor’s belief system.   How do we do this? About the closest I’ve seen to a common denominator is the term Higher Power, but I suspect few would be satisfied with this watered down description of God.

 

Since the very definition of God it is a hard question, I’m in favor of using a little class time to explore what each of us means when we say the word God. In fact, while we’re at it let’s expose our kids to the concepts behind a variety of belief systems so they can make an informed choice.

 

There would be many benefits to a comparative religion study in public classrooms. Jews, Muslims and Christians might gain an appreciation for each other’s point of view and stop killing each other.

 

Kids would get the opportunity to do some critical thinking as they form their own belief system. As a parent of 3 kids, above all else I value giving my kids honest answers to their questions. They’ve come up with some whoppers over the years that are tough for me to deal with because I have more questions than answers myself. If God set up the universe as an experiment, and then gave us free will so he could then reward the faithful, couldn’t he have chosen an experiment that didn’t include so much human suffering?   If God is all powerful and all knowing, then he has both the knowledge that there will be suffering and the power to prevent it but chooses not to. Why is this? Eve takes a bite of the forbidden fruit and the price imposed by God is a human sacrifice? Sounds like sort of a vindictive God to me. Are you sure this whole thing isn’t just a cruel joke to get me to behave the way you want?

 

Talking serpents, plural marriage, child sacrifices, Jonah inside the belly of a whale for 3 days and living to tell about it? Virgin births, rising from the dead, purgatory, life beyond the grave, cannibalistic themes like “eat his body, drink his blood”? The salacious story of Sodom and Gamorrah. I’m having a hard time telling the difference between the Old Testament, a Stephen King novel, and Greek mythology.

 

Should the knowledge of the 1st century be considered the infallible truth of the 21st? Didn’t Nicolas Copernicus teach us anything about questioning the puerile beliefs of our time?

 

I see it as a dangerous practice to ascribe literal truth to a compendium of writings drafted over many centuries by scores of different authors with vastly different agendas and perspectives. I find it ironic that those who hold that God belongs in the classroom are usually the same people trying to keep Harry Potter out of the school library.

 

It’s clear a lot of good has occurred in this world due by people who have a strong faith in God. Unfortunately, history also has recorded the atrocities of The Crusades, the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the IRA in Northern Ireland, and Al Qaeda to name a few, all in the name of God.

 

When kids ask hard questions about God, instead of giving the usual hand wave answers (my favorite eye roller is “God didn’t want us to be robots so he gave us free will”), sometimes I find the best answer I can come up with is “That’s a great question but a tough question, so I won’t pretend to have the answer for you at this time.”   Being a parent does not somehow make me an authority figure on God. But I do get to decide if my approach will be rationalism, which seeks to reach the heart through the head, or theology, which seeks to reach the head through the heart.

 

Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us inherited our belief system from our families. We did no study of belief systems followed by the process of making an objective choice. Someone we trusted made that choice, and in many cases, at infancy. Growing up we were allowed to ask a few questions, but as the questions got harder to answer, instead of admitting they don’t really know, the people responsible for our faith development fell back on that age old tactic that gets ‘em every time: Fear of eternal damnation.

 

When you’re an impressionable grade schooler, the idea of eternity in a place like hell is a tough thing to get past. Perhaps this is why many children just adopt the belief system that’s been brow beaten into their psyche and move on.

 

I admire many people who have a strong faith in God, especially those who walk the talk. But it’s been my observation that those in favor of re-instating God back in public schools are the same ones who would be marching down to the principal’s office if teachers were to engage kids in a conversation about God and find out the teacher’s definition of God doesn’t match theirs precisely. Perhaps this is why public schools avoid the issue altogether. They can’t win no matter what they do.

 

In any case, spending classroom time on the subject of God is fine by me.

 

Bill Toner

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Fair and Balanced

salon.com writer Simon Maloy recently submitted some eloquent prose about Fox’s bias.  I couldn’t stop laughing reading about how Trump went in for the “Deluxe Hannitization Package” to explain away his outbursts against Judge Curiel for not giving him a free pass on the Trump University investigation.

It doesn’t seem to matter which show you watch, the format is the same.  The moderator hack invites two guests on for a debate.  It rages on for about 5 minutes 2 on 1.

Fair and Balanced.  They even have it trademarked.

 

 

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Managing Uncertainty

The vast majority of company training I’ve taken over my 36 year career has been a pretty big waste of time.  However, every once in a while you run across a teacher you connect with and the take-aways really stick.

One such class was a an all day management class required by Tektronix by Dr. Ralph Katz.  It’s been so many years ago, I don’t recall what the name of the class, but he basically took us through the main points of his book The Human Side of Managing Technical Innovation.

Dr. Katz’s main points were all centered around managing uncertainty where;

uncertainty == bad

This point resonated with me personally, especially as it related to my years in the High Tech Industry prior to management.  High Tech is cyclical.  Today’s Google is tomorrow’s AOL.  You are never ‘set’ because change is happening so fast.  Combine this general trend with being in aerospace and printers while trying to provide stability for a family of 5, and  what you get is a fairly stressful situation because you’re always looking over your shoulder for the next round of cuts – wondering if you should’ve signed up for that 30 year mortgage or not.   Sleepless nights and overtime are a way of life.

I was a new manager at the time I took this class.  I was eager to try to be a good one in the sense of understanding the human side of the job and getting the most out of people because they were motivated as a team, not because of fear tactics.

When people are worried about their jobs on a daily basis and uncertainty is a way of life, some powers that be seem to think this is a good thing as far as squeezing more productivity out of people.  So what if they are scared, we got more done and met our goals.  What I’ve experienced is the opposite.

For 12 years at Xerox from 2000-20012, we were under constant pressure of cuts.  This is not the fault of management.  It had more to do with industry trends and decline of the printed page, but it was the hand we were dealt.  Senior management did make some horrendous mistakes along the way, but in general, it was just being in the wrong industry at the wrong time.

Be that as it may, Xerox is a big company.  They are spread over multiple continents and management chose a ‘distributed’ model for software development, which brings its own set of challenges.  In my role I had to collaborate with teams in Rochester, NY as well as Welwyn Garden City, UK, as well as 2 sites in India.  Apart of the time-zone challenges, the biggest challenges was, as Dr. Katz so adeptly pointed out in his book, managing uncertainty across these sites.

What management failed to recognize was that ‘team’ collaboration across sites in different organization was a recipe for territorial battles.  And we had them in spades.  Because of the back-drop of uncertainty in the workplace, peoples’ actions aligned first with protecting their site, and second towards team.  Oftentimes this was hidden in very subtle ways, but nevertheless, it explained a lot of behaviors I saw.

Here’s where Dr. Katz’s message could have been employed for much better results, but it was not.  Management failed to recognize the very existence of the territorial battles because they were worried about them themselves.  I often wondered what different results would have been possible had a Sr. Manager sent one email , genuine in nature, that set peoples’ minds at ease on the uncertainty question, and motivated everyone to work as a true team without the worry of territorial loss.

I do not think this was asking management to promise people that their jobs were certain.  Everyone knew they were not.  But a simple e-mail to let everyone know that hey, we need you to get these 3 things done as soon as possible, and nobody is going anywhere for the next 6 months for sure.  Let’s work hard together and get it done.  It’s not a message of relaxation, or promising things not possible.

Instead the rumor mill was always in full force, often at times when there was nothing to worry about.  This is not when people able to be their most productive selves.

I remember one time in particular when a rumor mill was hot for 3 months about an upcoming layoff.  The rumor was true, but at the end of the day they only laid off 10 people from our site of 1500 people.  That’s less than 1%.  There didn’t need to be that much fear and loathing over a < 1% cut.  I’m actually of the belief that most companies should go through and trim out the bottom 5% of performers as a matter of course, just to get rid of the dead weight.  Addition by subtraction and it’s good for business and morale.  But because they chose to be poor communicators and run a major clandestine operation of much-ado-about-nothing, a bunch of people ran scared who didn’t need to.

Another of Dr. Katz’s messages had to do with ‘what goes around comes around’.  For the better part of the last 2 decades, a poor economy has given corporations the upper hand when it comes to employee retention.  It’s not like we had a ton of options to move around for higher salaries, so attrition has remained relatively low.  That’s how it is right now, but it’s not always that way.

I remember in the 1990’s having an extremely difficult time getting the right people hired. They simply had too many offers on the table.  In my 36 years at this, I’ve only was one time in the late 1990’s where the management team had to huddle up with HR and have a serious discussion about retention.  People were leaving for startups and the impact was large.  Schedules were being missed. But it can happen and the tides may be shifting.  I’m starting to see more movement now than in previous years and funny enough, it’s not always about money.  A big factor is work environment and indirectly, level of certainty.

I exited management about 3 1/2 years ago and I do not miss it.  My favorite aspect of it for the 15 years I was in it was college recruiting, and there’s so little hiring that even that is not much of an attraction to get back in.  But I can’t help but remember Dr. Katz’s message as I see managers attempt to rule by intimidation and employ fear tactics.

At the end of the day, high tech workers don’t like to be treated like employees of U.S. Steele.  Often times when we do, what management gets is clock-punchers who aren’t motivated to care about their project beyond work hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Doubling down on bigotry

I have this friend Mike, who aligns himself with conservatives.  Good guy, just has different ideas than I do about what will work in politics.  A while back I made a sarcastic post on Facebook – something to do with the GOP and he replied “Don’t be a hater!”

You see that a lot of comments like this on web from both sides.  “Haters suck.”  Well, he’s right, they do.

I got him back today when he posted a comment about how entertaining it will be to watch Hillary get prosecuted.  Touché.  I only mention this because this post isn’t intended to be about hating on Republicans.  Nah, haters suck.  I agree.

This is more of a general observation about logic that escapes me.

I must admit one of my favorite television viewing experiences was right after the 2012 election when the pundits who predicted a GOP landslide were caught with their pants down on live TV.  As a result, some aren’t even welcome to opine on Fox anymore.  Dick Morris for example, has moved on to history documentaries and is nowhere to be seen.  Karl Rove’s “…but, but, but, it’s not over yet in Ohio” while Megyn Kelly held the microphone in his face was well, just too much entertainment to ask for.  I believe the word for this is schadenfreude.  Not one of my better traits, but at least I’m honest about it.

After a week or so came the GOP post-mortem.  I remember it clearly.  The failure to attract a higher percentage of the Latino vote was key to Romney’s loss.  Obama won the Latino vote 71% to 27% and worse for the GOP, this is a growing demographic they have to deal with in future elections.

We heard a lot of talk about “making a wider tent” and having policies that will attract Latinos to the Republican party as the strategy that will be addressed for 2016.

Well, that didn’t last long.

Enter the increasing influence of talk radio on the electorate.  Hosts like Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are inside the Tea Partiers’ heads.  The post-mortem strategy lasted about 5 minutes before the rally cries for deporting 14 million illegals back to Mexico!  That should play well with Latinos.

Now the top 2 delegate winners in Iowa are non-establishment candidates who signed on to this philosophy.  The establishment is cringing because Rove and Priebus both know that this is a disaster waiting to happen and there’s nothing they can do about it.  The religious right and tea partiers have hijacked the Republican party.

Perhaps the best part is, it doesn’t stop there.  Donald Trump throws insults at women and Muslims as if he can win the general election with the white-male vote.  How does someone who is so poor at math become a billionaire?  Curious minds want to know.

As far as I can tell, the adjusted strategy, instead of luring the Latino vote, the GOP is now focused on placing tighter restrictions on voter registration and gerrymandering.  We’ll see how this turns out.

I became an Independent right after we entered the first Gulf War and I witnessed the US and Iraqi governments rounding up Baath party members for a visit to the slammer ( or worse ).  After that I decided, who needs a party?   I don’t want my name on that card.  What if the guy ( or gal ) does something really stupid?  Like drop an atomic bomb on a foreign county?  Guilty by association?  Maybe.

I say this because I, like a lot of people have grown weary from the political dynasties of Clinton and Bush.  Apart from their legal troubles which I opined on here, I like Hillary as a candidate.  She’s a very smart woman.  And I think she’d fight for the middle class far more than anyone on the GOP side would.  But she’s too cozy with the super pac donors and I think that taints any candidate.  That’s why I’m rooting for Bernie Sanders in this election.  The biggest selling point for me is the average donation of $27, and not taking money from super pacs.

Bernie is seen as about as far left as you can get, but just because I support his candidacy doesn’t mean that I endorse massive government spending.  On the contrary.  I’d like to see all departments reviewed annually for places to tighten up.  There’s a ton of wasteful spending, there’s no doubt about that.  There’s plenty of blame to go around for this on both sides of the aisle.  Democrats for allowing too many handouts unchecked, and Republicans for not closing loop-holes that ensure the rich get richer while the rest of us battle for the crumbs.

I’m not hating on Republicans here, just pointing out the irony of the post-mortem analysis from 2012 and wondering where it went.

 

 

 

 

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Donald Trump

There really isn’t much point spending a lot of energy debating whether Donald Trump is qualified or deserving of the GOP nomination.  Of course he won’t be the nominee.  Any sane person can see this.

What I know about the media tells me that they love to build people up and then watch them come crashing down.  Let’s face it, the media has never seen a candidate with an ego this big.  Never.  It’s a once in a lifetime event.

So far this primary has been about giving Trump ample opportunity to put his enormous ego on display so that when he gets beaten in the primaries, the networks will win the ratings game again by being able to air Trump pounding sand at his loss.  Looking forward to an entertaining show.

 

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The Slow Boat to Authentic Self for a Product of the 70’s

For someone who wasn’t there, it’s hard to describe what it meant to grow up in the 1970’s.  There was definitely a feeling of being a part of an anti-establishment, anti Vietnam war era movement.  I think half the time we didn’t really know what we were against but if it felt like it was coming from the establishment, we were against it.  If Laugh-In or the Smothers Brothers made fun of it, then it must be bad.  Watergate and bringing down the Nixon machine was a huge victory for the little guy.

There was an incredibly common theme to the music of the day, which had a strong message of a younger generation taking over.  Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Allman Brothers, Aerosmith, Elton John, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees, Billy Joel, and Steely Dan were all sending strong anti-establishment messages with their lyrics and incredible song writing.  With only a few stations to listen to, these bands had the monopoly on the message and it was powerful.

The kids I knew aspired to get out of the house at 18 and be independent no matter what. The hip ‘thing to do’ after turning 18 was to get in a van, travel the country for a year or so and work odd jobs along the way.  Let’s get this independence thing started with a bang.   Very few of my peers were able to actually do this, but at the time it was talked about as a legitimate plan.

One of the worst fates it seemed, was to be stuck living at home with your parents under their oppression.  Since about age 12, I had already decided there was no way I was ever going to let that happen to me. Ever. I had resolved to grow up fast and get out. It was understood that this probably meant living poor for a time. So be it. Not a deterrent in the slightest. I’ll eat peanut butter and jelly every day if I have to.

One of my older sisters got engaged at age 16 and was on the fast track to independence. I looked up to her in this regard and while it wasn’t a competition to see who could get married the youngest, I was definitely envious of her approach to getting out of the house early with the ability to make her own decisions.

I was a somewhat rebellious teen. Not horrible, but definitely not on board with my parents’ ideals which included ( for a time ) private school, mandatory church attendance ( and I mean mandatory ), and somewhat higher expectations around behavior and appearance, some of which could be traced back to the teachings of Catholicism.

Looking back, the expectations weren’t really that high. I did okay in school, I guess.  I’m a lifetime 3.2 student at all levels.  Trying for an A was usually more effort than I was willing to put out but sometimes I’d surprise myself and go for it.

I’m actually very thankful for certain aspects of my upbringing.  For one thing, being a part of the private school culture instilled a stronger sense of conscience than I might have had.  There’s a little bit of a work ethic message that came with it that has served me well in my adult years, though I didn’t value it much at the time.

With regard to rebellion, the two biggest rules that ranked on me the most were the control over my haircut and ( a crew-cut for about the first 10 years ), and the mandatory church attendance. As a parent, I get where they were coming from now, but at the time I was livid — and both were non-negotiable.

I make it sound like my parents were demanding task-masters.  They were not.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They actually had a strong vision of what they considered the family framework and that included a lot of fun and laughter.  Dad was a hilarious entertainer and my golfing buddy.  Mom was always there for me when I needed it most.  Once I got to know them better as an adult, I came to find out they were actually quite liberal-minded when it came to social justice issues.

Punishment was pretty rare and I can’t think of a single time I got some when I didn’t fully deserve it.  It’s just that the vision had to fit inside this particular framework and that was a challenge for me.  As it turned out, a really big challenge.

Tied in with this was the culture of the 60’s and 70’s where long hair was a big deal. And I mean BIG DEAL. Walking to school with a crew-cut immediately excluded you from any kind of cool kid group. You weren’t hip. Your parents obviously had control over you and you came from one of those ‘strict’ families. Bummer for you. Yes, bummer indeed. And you’re reminded of it every single day.

So sophomore year of high school I meet this really nice girl from more of a blue-collar family. Her dad was a mechanic. They camped a lot, liked to hunt, fish, and all of that. I genuinely liked those things too but I think in the back of my mind dating her and joining this family culture was another piece of the rebellion pie. We got along well, but at the same time it was a statement to the rest of the family that I am my own man. Back off. I’m going in this direction and it’s not what you may have had in mind for me, but too bad. And indeed there was nothing they could do about it. I liked that aspect of it. It wasn’t all about rebellion, I genuinely loved her and enjoyed being with her family.  But with the benefit of hindsight, part of it was.

We got married during Spring break of my freshman year of college.  I was 19, a student and part-time janitor. She was 18 and worked full-time to support my education. It wasn’t a snap decision.  We didn’t ‘have to’ get married. We chose to. We were a pretty unusual case, even for 1979. We had been dating for 4 years.

The early years of the marriage were a little challenging financially, but I don’t recall feeling like we didn’t have enough.  We started a family right away and moved to the Everett Washington area. I remember being pretty happy. It was an exciting time. New job at Boeing. Out on my own. Life was good.

Somewhere along the way though, I started to realize I had gone down this particular path for the wrong reasons. It was clear we were two very different people who were raised in two very different family situations. When you have kids ( we had 3 ), you automatically have something in common and often times that alone can be enough to keep a marriage together. In our case, it was — for 27 years. But about 12 years into the marriage I realized I am not being honest with myself here. I am not able to be my authentic self – and neither was she.  That’s very frustrating for both people.

What does it mean to ‘be your authentic self’?  I like the definition which states “Living a life that is in tune with who you were created to be.”  Contrast that with fictional self:  “When you live a life in which you are not faithful to your authentic self, you find yourself feeling incomplete, as if there is a hole in your soul.”

Part of this is simply feeling like you fit in.  In Oregon we have this vast culture divide between people who live East of the Cascade Mountain range, and people who live in the valley.  West of the mountains we defined by liberal politics, especially in Multnomah County.  East of the Mountains, where her family was from, it’s far more conservative.

I remember visiting family east of the mountains and struggling to fit in at times.  I’ve spent the vast majority of my career in various roles of the software industry — from Software Engineer to Manager to Software Engineer again.  By trade I can’t help but be an Irish software geek.

So try being out with the guys in Central Oregon and Bob over there is talking about how he just replaced the tranny in his truck  but it still has a little slippage.  And the compression wasn’t quite right so he had to take the head off and adjust the pistons.

What have you been up to, Bill?  “Well, I fixed a really tricky timing problem between hardware and software on a Flight Controls box between the air speed signal and the new ASIC.  And it took 3 days in the debugger to figure it out.”  [ Stares ].  “Cool.”

Top that off with the fact that as a mechanic, I am a klutz.  The stories are legendary.  I packed the wheel bearings in my truck one time and the front wheel came off going over Mt. Hood.  And I had my wife and 3 month old daughter in the truck.  No one was hurt, thankfully.  Her Dad came to the rescue and bailed us out big-time.

Another challenge for me was that as I had decided to just “be” my authentic self and let the chips fall where they may, I got more vocal about politics.  I have never, nor will I ever, understand how conservatives buy into trickle-down economic theory.  I couldn’t keep my mouth shut at the irony of voting against one’s self interests and this led to quite a bit of additional friction.  It starts off as friendly banter, but if you’re not careful ( and I was not ), it can escalate.  At the end of the day it simply exposes family differences that are nearly impossible to reconcile while keeping some semblance of your authentic self.

If there’s any fault to be assigned here, it clearly goes to me because I’m the one who changed. She stayed true to who she is. I am the one who bait and switched and I’m sure that was very hard for her. It’s my fault if fault needs to be assigned. In my defense, I was a naive teenager.

As hard as divorce is, this one has a happy ending because we both met and married a partner who is far more accepting of our authentic selves. I couldn’t be happier for her and her new husband and I’m sure she feels the same way about Donna and I.

What a great thing it is, to be able to get up every morning and be your authentic self.

To be able to think out loud unfiltered and still be accepted and understood.  To be hanging with your peeps who get you.  To be able to pursue what floats your boat without fear of judgment.  To not have to feel like you’re walking on egg-shells around family.

And for every benefit I just listed for myself, the exact same thing is true for her.  It’s freedom.  It’s the difference between waking up everyday wondering why you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole vs. being excited about what lies ahead.

Joining the dating pool in 2007, after being out of it for 30 years was an interesting experience.  I get a kick out of the profiles on match.com where people put forth the impression that they offer a thrill a minute.  We’ll be rock climbing, jet skiing, para-sailing and running marathons when we aren’t traveling to Istanbul.  I knew better than that.

My main requirement was that this time around: I get to be my authentic self.  As it turns out, on the very first date with Donna we had sort of an a-ha moment where we both declared we are not going to settle.  For me, that was #1.  Neither one of us needed to be married.  We were doing fine single, thank-you very much.  I knew this was a very good starting point.  And it was.  But that’s a blog post for another day.

Authentic Self.  Yep.  I’m in favor of being who you are and not trying to be someone you’re not.

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