Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The River Walk

by Pat Antonopoulos

A huge sand barge grinds upriver sucking muck from the bed and funneling it to side barges, balancing the immense weight. The north side of the river walk vibrates as the BNSF coal train slows for the Parkville crossing. Walled by water and rail, English Landing Park maintains the green comfort of a people place.

Families wait for a turn on the sand volley ball court, cheering for strangers and the good serve. Bicycles are for the 8 to 80 group, all helmeted and giving way to joggers. Dogs walk their people, straining to catch a whiff of other breeds pulling---wanting to run.

This evening the wind was wonderful pushing against forward motion. I love to walk in wind. It forces an awareness of every step, every effort. It makes me want to run. And I suspend the need for any sense of time---until the Park University music marks the 15 minute intervals. What a gift!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

At The Pool

by Pat Antonopoulos

Monday morning, 8:00 AM, and only four in the pool. We barely made a blip on the usual echo that seems built into the walls of high school swimming pools.

For years, Bob has been the sole male in the group dutifully coming because he knows how much I relish the hour of cool water and self imposed solitude at the deeper end.

We rarely follow the instructor's shouted routine, instead swimming to whatever tempo fits the morning. When the group is large this is fine, but on Monday, we decided to stay with the instructor, laughing about finally getting the behavior disordered couple to join the group.

M., the lifeguard, climbed down from the tower-chair and pulled a lawn chair close to the pool's edge where we clustered to start the warm-up. M. is friendly with the uninhibited charm that grumps and smiles with equal intensity.

"So uh... you guys are like fun to watch...uh.. so how long you guys been married?"
Who knew we were even being watched!
Who knew that we would stutter over finding the right answer.

"Not long enough" and "Better ask her" were the first attempts.
M. laughed at our confusion and didn't let up. " long?"

"Well, we met in high school, lost track of one another and reconnected about 25 years I think we have been married close to 25 years, give or take."
We all laughed at my attempt at numbering our time together.

"Nope. It will be 28 years the first of December. Maybe about December 3 or December 6...or close to that date."
Bob had the years, but not the date, that we should celebrate.

We had a fun morning as the nonsense escalated and the hour ended with my promise that I would check the date and have the answer on Wednesday.

This isn't a senior moment or a brain fog story. It is just the way we have always been. The exact information is printed on a small card tucked in a drawer, should it ever be important to someone. Of course, we have checked it, made a mental note to remember and promptly forgotten again.

I think this means that the years ahead are more important than the years past--- and that the now is most important.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

At the end of the bed

Patti Dickinson

I had a teary, homesick phone call from one of my out-of-the-house kids the other day. This particular kid just graduated from Knox College last spring, and is now finding her way as a newly-launched adult in Chicago. She had an internship at The Vitalist Theatre that began in early June, and it is stuttering to the end as she wraps up assistant-stage-managing "The Night Season". The good news is that she has another internship at The Eclipse Theatre beginning in October, with a two week overlap with The Vitalist. This new job is a step up....she will be dropping the "assistant" prefix and stage-manage! It is during those two weeks that she will find out what she is made of, working two full-time jobs and putting a lot of miles on that rusted blue Schwinn.

As we talked through life's highs and lows.....the highs --- how the new job will be only a five mile bike ride from her apartment, instead of the six and a half miles she has been peddling. Inclement weather? Not to worry. The buses in Chicago are equipped with bike racks on the front! Also in the going-well column is that she has a third interview with North Face. A job that pays a real salary, instead of the paying-your-dues internships that are resume boosters and put very little food on the table! The lows include some boyfriend issues, a tangled web of decisions waiting to be made. She needs a backboard, and I am happy to fill that role, although I probably interjected my two cents more often than I should have. And she got quiet. And I kept saying, "What, Kathleen?" Wanting her to fill the silence so I knew how to proceed in the conversation. And she said, "Mom....I just need a weekend at home. I just need some time to talk at the end of your bed."

You know those times when you are in perfect synchronicity with someone else? How both of you know exactly what the other is thinking/feeling without any more words that that?

Some of the most important moments in our lives have happened with a kid perched on the bottom of our bed. Me at the pillow end, the kid in question at the bottom. Facing each other. The perfect combination of eye contact and closeness to make the rest of the world fall back. And all that matters is the two of us. Allowing the power of family, this kid of mine that I physically brought into this world after carting her around for nine months to emerge. Now she, at 23, still feels the pull to revisit that place where problems get solved, tears are okay, the Kleenex box between us. And whatever is wrong, while maybe not righted at that very moment, is more clearly understood just having shared it with someone who loves them so very much. Just putting words to the feelings in a safe place. There is something sacred about that.

At the end of the bed.....we've talked about broken friendships, promises and boyfriend splits. We've waxed poetic and shared fears, worries and hard-to-put-into-words disappointments. It's where Wood and I heard about first dates. And last dates. Where I heard every last detail about the Father-Daughter Dance at Bishop Miege where Wood Dickinson took three daughters to dance. Where we talked over where to go to college and where they got a speeding ticket. And why they missed their curfew....again. All of these conversations took place as the day wound down. When the harshness of the world outside our windows seemed to retreat a bit.

Yes, we've lost some sleep over those late night conversations. But I've gained so much more. This tradition made me a non-believer in bedtimes. Too rigid. I don't shoo my kids to bed. I welcome them to sit a spell. It is, hands-down, one of the Dickinson Family's best traditions.

Up The Down

by Pat Antonopoulos

Some years ago, there was a movie or a TV program called "Up The Down Staircase". Never watched it but loved the title. Something, some force is pushing down yet going up is worth the contradiction. One of the natural world's 'up the down staircase' is the salmon, ready to spawn new life, fighting upstream currents and hungry bears. Don't see any hungry bears lurking about, but feel the pull of oppositional currents.

It has been so easy to share joyful moments of Four Ordinary Women with you, Gentle Reader. And there have been many---Keeler Women's Center, Rainy Day Books, Westwood Hills Book Club, Borders on Metcalf, Cedar Roe Library, House of Menuha--times of friendship, connection, gratitude and validation. But not all experiences surrounding the life of a new book have been completely positive. There is interesting work in discovering and handling the currents. Challenges are constant. And, of course, the negative makes the positive more important. Which makes those of you who participated in our author events very appreciated. Thank you.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On A Bit of Paper

by Pat Antonopoulos

"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person."
Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

Found this quote on one of my mini-mountains of paper---those scraps where I scribble bits and pieces of wisdom. Other scraps told me that I was thinking about evolution when I started clipping these bits together.

Evolution in the natural world created the perfect match of trumpet flower and hummingbird. The giraffes' size and neck allow the animal to eat what other animals can not reach. Adaptations of the physical world--adaptations that are 'finding voice' of survival.

Finding our emotional and spiritual voice is more difficult. Finding that voice is a level of self-direction, of becoming our own ideal. Matching behavior with the values we want to emulate is a daily challenge.

Our lives take us into places we had not imagined, with people we would not choose and in we ways we could not have predicted. The becoming can be a challenge. Our evolution can get bogged by the weight of circumstance.

Self-direction chosen by our will and our spirit can be supported by a circle of friends, enriching one another with strength of purpose and the courage of truth. Finding the group that nourishes where we hunger can help us become the right person---the person we choose to be.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Miracle of Connection at House of Menuha

Patti Dickinson

I always know when something out of the ordinary has occurred. Not out-of-the-ordinary like my kids decide to clean up their rooms without me going through my hair-standing-on-end rant. The kind of out-of-the-ordinary like a connection has been made that far transcends hi-how-are-you. When that kind of connection happens, I lay awake and look at the ceiling. No amount of pillow-punching cures it. I just have to wait it out.

Last night I sat around the table, graced with the company of twelve women who at six o'clock were strangers, and by eight o'clock were ---- something more. The common denominator was a love of books. Curiousity about how Four Ordinary Women came to be. These women wanted to know how it happened. How we got all our feelings and experiences on paper.

Well, one piece of writing at a time. And four years of broken pencil lead, pink eraser debris and balled up paper. Yup, nothing glamorous about that process.

Around that table was a therapist, a woman who'd just had knee replacement, a woman from England, a young mom of three and B, that mom's mentor, who was just so enthusiastic and spunky and likable and then a woman who'd written her life story for her family.

Twelve of us. Sharing a meal. Sharing ourselves. Tentative at first, but then as the dynamic came together, more risks were taken. And that, that is the beginning. We all have a story to tell. Our journeys are far more the same than they are different.

Sharpen your pencils.


by Pat Antonopoulos

Menuha is Hebrew for rest.
House of Menuha expands the definition to purposeful rest.
Last evening, September 23, Sister Annie welcomed twelve women to share the Menuha time and table. Many ages and life callings were represented as we shared the meal prepared by volunteers.
Within the short two hours, we became connected on a purposeful level of rest and refreshment. Hearts did speak to one another.
Generous women of conviction and caring supported one another in the atmosphere created by this house that purpose built.
It was a privilege to be part of the group. opens a door to gracious acceptance of our efforts to become authentic women.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Betwixt & Between---More Jelly To The Tree

by Pat Antonopoulos

If you, Gentle Reader, are a regular visitor to our blog, you know I can get mired in something that struggles in the beginning---and completely flounders at the end. That 'something' often lurks at the edge of my awareness for weeks as I try to sort the slots.

Communication is the 'how' when we want the 'why' of relationships. We care about another person and we want the best for that developing relationship. Communication is the 'how' of that growth.

Knee-jerk verbal put-downs directed at others and self deprecating whispers used against self have to be first cousins, if not blood.

Cannot imagine any relationship being improved by the quick tongue that blurts the negative. Even if the negative is directed at someone who is not present, the damage is real. We emotionally back away not wanting to be the recipient the next time a harsh remark is thrown. We learn to mistrust.

Where is the source of the belief that negative words should always be spoken? Why are we so quick to find fault?

Maybe (and this is a quarter's worth of home-spun) we carry that negative with us because it became part of us in an early formative time. Self-criticism gets awfully heavy and shame sours joy. Guilt suffocates and we cannot sustain it without relief so we morph guilt into anger. Trouble is that the anger is often very misdirected.

Betwixt & Between


by Pat Antonopoulos

"Nana?" Conspiratorial whisper from a five year old.
"Guess what, Nana? Pirates don't work on Halloween."

"Oh? Um. Busy on the high seas, are they? Well, what about Robin Hood? Or that Knight with all the tough-to-sew shine? Those guys do Halloween?"

"Nana? This is for real! I need to ask you something. Is it OK to ask you for something? Can you mail my scooter to Greenville. I NEED it so I can drive like Cruella when I wear my new costume."

Nana's no fool, right? I get it. Say no more.

Back story.
Back story is now a buzz word for a simple way to fill the blanks.
So a quick replay of July.
Then four years old, Frank was continuously tearing up and down the driveway doing wheelies, near crashes and midair turns while shouting, "Puppies. Where are the puppies?'

Disney created this androgynous creature, Cruella DeVille---flying fur cape, coal black hair with one long white streak and the bony structure of a cloth draped skeleton. Her henchmen drove the Cruella-Mobile with the abandon of the guy who owns the insurance company.

If the sun did come up this morning, then Frank will not only get his new costume, but the Antonopoulos Delivery Mobile will make the 17 hour drive. What good is a costume without the vehicle for wheelies, near crashes and midair turns?
I love being Nana.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Knit and Purl as a Metaphor for my Life

Patti Dickinson

I learned to knit in college. Sort of an earthy endeavor. Some people did sororities. I knit in overalls.

And I have been a knitter ever since. Oh, that doesn't mean that knitting is front and center. I alternate between compulsive knitting (in the bleachers at my daughter's volleyball tournaments, in airports, on the front porch) and knitting sabbaticals.

I'm not really an event-knitter. I gave that up a long time ago. Never could hit the Christmas/birthday deadlines, and I would get stressed out about that and suddenly the pressure to knit-on-demand took all the fun out of it. I didn't like getting up in the morning and finding "finish sleeves" on my to-do list, right next to "pick up dry cleaning".

Case in point. A Halloween sweater. Orange sweater, with triangle eyes, nose and toothless grin in black on the front. Yes, Mary Morgan was going to be the recipient of this sweater. Kid #5. What could be cuter on a first grader? Halloween came and went. We added three more kids. Life got in the way. The sweater sat, unfinished and neglected on the needles. Kid #8 blows by first and second grade. I find the first-grade-sized sweater in the closet. Still on the needles. Now the caboose is in third grade. It's September. We're in now-or-never mode. Only one problem. This first grade sized sweater is going to be a bit snug on third grade Margaret. Who cares? Where is it written that everything you wear has to be comfortable? Halloween morning dawns. We stuff her into the sweater ("we" because it was a two-man job) and off to school she goes. Mom of the Year, right? And I have to admit, I really liked the "Oh did you make that?" themed remarks on the sidewalk of the elementary school....

But I never knit when I am stressed. Just feels like too much relaxation when I am desperate for answers,'s hard to pace when you are knitting, unless you are okay with the ball of yarn following behind you on the floor.....

And as my friend Jane says, "So if your entire family shows up with new socks and sweaters, am I to assume that all is well at the Dickinson house?"

Hmmmm. Kind of an odd kind of barometer, huh?


by Pat Antonopoulos

One of my sisters has detail memory that is beyond my understanding. Because she is 18 months younger than I, we lived the same day to day through our high school years.
My high school memories are more smiles in the fog. Her memories are names, dates, lunch menus and who won what games during gym class. She can pull up conversation details from elementary school. And there I am, standing in that fog again, knowing how much I loved school but wondering if she and I attended on different planets.

Another sister and I went to daily Mass for many years. At this moment, I can experience the 'feeling' of the 6:00 A.M. walk to church, the time in childish prayer and the immersion in belief. Feeling is, again, what seems to matter most.

When my family gathers for holidays, there is that inevitable conversation peppered with 'remember when'---some laughter, some tears. Much of the picture isn't tucked away for me. The feelings are there and I can be overwhelmed not knowing exactly what triggered the quiet gasp.

Gatherings of retired teachers are huge store houses of what-we-should-have written-for-a-book moments. Again, the details...and I have over 25 years of feeling-storage. Often another person's words do bring up some specifics, but I usually have to work at finding them.

A friend speculated that I lived too much in the moment...that savoring the now kept me from holding the parts of the whole. This friend also said that I operated more emotionally than rationally so the rational details slipped away. Maybe...but I know I deeply miss what seems so elusive.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two Sides of the Mirror

by Pat Antonopoulos

Alice went through the looking glass to find her alternate universe.
"Eat this."
"Drink this."
Alice did.... and she became what she wasn't.
Had Mr. Carroll lived today,he might have added, "Wear this." to further the transformation of Alice.

Architectural innovation gave us buildings of reflective glass so that when we peer inside, we see the outside.
Discussion, two sides of the mirror, was once a way to make progress, but fails when winning the point trumps the learning.
An absolute belief in one side of righteousness is more destructive than conscious lying to distort and win the claim to that righteousness.
Just below our awareness, we have a twitch in our personalities for each friend and each adjustment in our reflection.
There is wavering depth to the looking glass.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Vernacular Has Changed

Patti Dickinson

Funny --- it dawned on me this morning that the vernacular has changed at the Dickinson house.

It used to be that we had "the big kids" and "the little kids". I was taking "the big kids" to school, or taking "the little kids" to the pool. And now there are no little kids. (Although Margaret Dickinson will always be the "baby of eight".)

Now we have the "kids out of the house" (four of them), "the college kids" (two of them) and the kids at home (two of them). How did that happen? This is a common theme in my blogs. How did we go from diapers to curling irons in every bathroom? How did we go from strollers to jalopies with collision-only insurance? How did we go from subtraction worksheet homework, to math homework that requires a graphing calculator and paper to match? From baby teeth to retainers? From slip-'n-slides in the backyard to Outward Bound adventures far from home?

This week I was reminded of how much I like each stage. I watched my JV volleyball kid (okay, I do labels for my kids in the blogs because I know that you can't remember all the names of my kids!!!) play in a game. A goof up, and then a little "coaching" from the coach on the sidelines (I know that's a lot of "coaches" in one sentence, but I didn't want you to think that I coach from the sidelines --- not one of my vices) and then I could see her regroup. Suck it up, as the kids say. Shake it off. (This is the kid who used to be a bundle of tears on homeplate if she swung at the wrong time)

Andrew, freshman at UNL is taking a photojournalism class this semester. The assignment was to go take pictures of a person. Andrew told me he'd done the assignment but wasn't happy with it. Long story short, he decided at the last minute to redo the assignment and had an encounter with a homeless man. Take a look:

And then there's Mary --- third year nursing student. She called with big news yesterday. She gave an enema to a dummy. (I couldn't make this stuff up) I didn't ask the details. This is the kid who still doesn't understand how funny she really is. (Years ago, my two high school kids would call for a ride home after cross country practice. Mary would answer the phone. Act like she was a Chinese carry-out restaurant with her version of a Chinese accent. The cross-country kids would say, "Mary --- GET MOM" and she would be asking "You want fried rice with that?" Every afternoon.)

Kathleen had an interview yesterday for a stage-managing job in Chicago. They called her. Good sign. She has been beating the sidewalks looking for work. Actually she has been pedaling the sidewalks on her trusty, rusty Schwinn. Her internship is up at the end of October. She has been diligent, unfailingly optimistic and determined. Some mighty fine qualities.

This weekend we are taking our first grandchild, Ben to the circus. He just turned three. So I will have my fix of half a dozen trips to the bathroom and sticky cotton candy fingers, and wonder in his eyes. Lucky me.....all ages and stages at once.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cedar Roe Library

by Pat Antonopoulos

We moved to the area in 1964 and my children grew up a bike ride from Cedar Roe Library. Our "Four Ordinary Women" writing and support group began meeting at the library in 2001. Last evening, September 16, 2009, we were privileged to have an author event in the meeting room at Cedar Roe Library.

1964 to 2009---45 years of connection that shaped our lives.

The book signing was amazing. Library personnel were most gracious and attentive. The chairs were filled with a receptive audience who offered comments and questions.Friends and colleagues from years past came to share our evening.

Today is my 71st birthday and last evening at Cedar Roe was a very special gift.
My sincere thanks to everyone who gave me this once-in-a-lifetime present of time, appreciation and validation. Happy Birthday to me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In The Moment

by Pat Antonopoulos

Granted, the past is relegated to the unchangeable.
No do-overs, no rewinds.
Not even slightly erased, unless time does the dimming.
Not obliterated, but unreachable.
And the future?
Try to control that bit of life and see how many times those lines blur into unplanned and unforeseen.
So we are left with the moment.
And I don't even know what that means.
This second-to-minute that I am typing? Do I make this my 'moment'?
But family is waiting for a meal.
A nagging injury wants ice water and sympathy.
The to-do list is longer in this moment than it was two moments ago.
An unforeseen business situation looks insurmountable.
So maybe the moment is really this day...this portion of what has been given to me to live and to love.
Maybe the moment is a figment of my mind-set that isn't time related at all.
Even though I am alone in this room, this house, I am surrounded by everyone who matters to me, by every experience that provided me with an understanding that challenge is not synonymous with discouragement.
Maybe living in the moment actually means living in history...personal history, family history, the history of becoming. Now that makes for a most impressive moment.

A Whirlwind Visit to the Windy City

Patti Dickinson

Just back from a whirlwind weekend in Chicago. We left here early Saturday morning (still- dark-out kind of early!) --- Wood and I and a near-comatose Meghan. One tired girl from a week's worth of school and volleyball (And staying up too late on Friday night with her friends -- which began with a carload of kids to Chipotle -- all clutching $7.00 as they debarked in a fashion very reminiscent of the clown-car routine at the circus, and then back here to hang out)

We got to the airport and right off the bat we were going to be an hour late leaving Kansas City. Chicago was fogged in (I knew about the wind thing, but not the fog) Fortunately, one hour didn't turn into two, then three. We took off and landed, with just barely enough time to eat two small bags of peanuts (they gave me two, I didn't ask for seconds! Haha) and skim the airline magazine. (I did find an ad for an exercise machine that promised that you could use it for three minutes a day and it would be the same as using weights, cardio, etc. Hmmm. A little steep. $14,000. But you could rent it for 30 days....) I was even lucky enough that the man in front of me didn't feel compelled to slam his seat back and put his head in my lap. He kept his seat in the full upright position. (I have no idea what he did with his tray table)

Checked into the hotel, and took a cab over to Kathleen's apartment. She has a roommate. Adam. Really nice young man. Graduated from Knox in 2008 and works at The Vitalist with Kathleen. Those two ride their bikes together to the theatre each day. 12 miles round trip. Adam is a friend. A brother and sister kind of relationship. He cleans the bathroom and she handles the kitchen. Nice give and take.

Saw "The Night Season" that night. Kathleen's first professional theatre debut as Assistant Stage Manager. She exudes a love of her work. Passion for theatre, working to make the whole experience come off seamlessly. A proud mom moment. She has had a terrific first experience. A wonderful community to step into....and we got to take a snapshot glimpse into her new life....where she cooks, stores her bike, sits to read and oh yeah, "breaks a leg".

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Birthdays

by Pat Antonopoulos
Every day is a host of birthdays. Every day has celebrations. Our rituals bond our connections with our family, our friends, our communities and our world. We create the memories and forge the conduits that bless our lives.

For some celebrations, gifts are important and for others the gifts just don't matter. Food takes on a special kind of nourishment when we offer favorites as a way to acknowledge a birthday.

Banner, balloons and cards with just the right message make the ritual visible and the celebration brighter. Lighted candles honor the years just completed and blowing away the fire opens us to the coming year.

So...Happy Birthday to everyone and especially to my daughter-in-law and to the husband of a dear friend. September 14 is very special because it is the day you began the journey that has graced our lives.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Anger Trumps

by Pat Antonopoulos

The Senator from South Carolina broke decorum and angrily yells as the President of the United States. The message was personal, "You are a liar."

Past Presidents have had to tolerate Congressmen and Senators refusing to applaud and/or stand in respect. There have been some booing from the chamber.

Daniel Schorr and David Gergen are two favorite political analysts. Both men are historians and astute students of American politics. Both spoke on NPR today and mutually agreed that the outburst from the Senator from South Carolina crossed many lines. The Senator has apologized. He could not do otherwise.

To paraphrase Mr. Schorr, "There is no situation in American today where people do not hesitate to yell in anger, to shout in protest."

Balanced and fair, David Gergen did recall other moments of breach in the Chamber, but none so egregious.

And as is my habit, I want to pull this down from the women and men who represent the highest symbols of our country. I want to pull the core concept into our cities, our neighborhoods and our personal lives.

I have little doubt that the gentleman from South Carolina was overcome with his anger, that he momentarily lost his sense of time and place and that emotion won the moment.

Anger does triumph far to often. "She/he made me mad. I have been tolerant, but this is too much. In this situation, my anger trumps everything. I win."

We, too, experience the same brain-blocks as the Senator experienced. We react with more emotion than reason. We erode our culture with the belief that anger has a right to be expressed in any circumstance.

And, Gentle Reader, I sorting my own emotional jumble with the absolutely reasonable assumption that you have important insights...that you can help sort the authenticity of justified anger and the respectful expressions of that anger.
You are very appreciated.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Commercial

by Pat Antonopoulos

"Depression Hurts"
Tag line of the pharmaceutical push to sell a drug.
No argument.
Depression is unbelievably destructive to every life touched by the ripple.
No way in and no way out.
Family and friends struggle to find the way into the damaged place that allowed depression to consume.
The depressed loved one pulled in all the openings and disallows entry.
A stand-off.
In the old western stand-offs a fast moving horse and a rapid-fire-pistol-rescue were scripted.
In the depression stand-off, rescue is a foreign concept to the depressed who refuses 'better living through chemistry" and scoffs at talk therapy.
No argument--depression hurts.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Authenticity II

by Pat Antonopoulos

My thanks to 'interculturaleyes' for the wonderful comment. It is a comfort to read those thoughts about the shared struggle to judge in our imperfect world.

My gentle and wise Jesuit friend cautioned that we are forced to make judgments. Fr. Ed believes that it is the HOW that is most important---what foundation leads us to decide what is true and safe.

True and safe.

Maybe little else matters.

The HOW of the process (the source of the belief that gives permission to judge) is part of the struggle.

We have a need and a duty to judge. Bad people exist. Child molesters prey on the innocent. Corrupt people destroy. Lying lives as a way of communicating.

True and safe.

"Interculturaleyes" words helped form my own thoughts about suspending cultural authenticity in order to open ourselves to new find the true and safe in all authentic places.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


by Pat Antonopoulos

There is that cliche visual of rays leaving the a sun flash-opening the dark. Maybe the reverse is just as powerful. Maybe small and separate bits finally reach a place where illumination bursts into a powerful awareness.

Not "genuine article" authenticity as in name brand shoes, purses or whatever product commands the current highest market place dollar. But authenticity of what makes us individuals, what makes us genuinely who we are.

A few of the most recent rays opening the core have been the movie, The Soloist, a few hours at House of Menuha, a recent and fairly major set-back, a phone conversation with a stranger, a developing conflict that was both business and personal and a calming and insightful conversation with my oldest son.

Somehow these bits and pieces fit right into my personal weirdness of the week. And, even though I am writing this, I have no idea where it should go--- or how to find the last period for the last sentence. But I absolutely know it has to do with judging others and the measures by which we find them lacking. I absolutely know it has to do with a belief that a judgement has to reach both ways if it has claim to authenticity. A negative evaluation of another person just evaporates into vapor if we allow ourselves a pass on the same behaviors.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Patti Dickinson is Not Broadway-Bound

Patti Dickinson

Saturday nights. The Dickinson's are creatures of habit. 4:00 Mass, then home to figure out what the teenagers have planned (never happens that we know that before Mass), get them where they're going, and then Wood and I head to the bookstore. One of two "big box" conglomerates. There we go through the front doors together, wander separately because our taste in books couldn't be more different, and then meet in the coffee shop.

Last night, I made a stop at the Information Desk. I wanted to find out where I could find that new, couldn't-put-it-down book called Four Ordinary Women. Haha. So I walked up to a young bespectacled twenty-something young man and said, "Would you check on the availability of a book for me?" "Of course." he says. "Ummm (I didn't want to look too sure of the title, lest I be discovered...Four Ordinary Women." He types that into his computer....."Oh, yes, by Pat Antonopoulos?" "Yes, that's the one." "Let's see....looks like I can order that for you." I clear my throat....I have absolutely no theatrical experience and none of this is coming naturally to me....."You don't carry it here?" "Ummm (now he's saying it...) No, I'm sorry. But it looks like the Zona Rosa store and the Plaza location have it in stock." So I look appropriately crestfallen, and wander away.

Is this the shameless self-promotion the publisher is talking about????

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Nailing Jelly To A Tree

by Pat Antonopoulos new favorite visual...can't you just feel the frustration as the sugar-ooze slides down the bark? Hammering away with nail-hard motivation and--OOPS-- Is that Simon and Garfunkle singing, "Slip-sliding away".

That, Gentle Readers, is my visual for my blogging.

You are there. You are reading our blog. The numbers tell me so.
But where are your words? Where is our interaction?

When my genetic material got mushed in the baby blender, the 'funny' gene didn't happen. That, I gratefully and positively, leave with Patti. She IS funny. So we sort of balance. My brass mirrors and spoiled sports are spiffed up by her cars without wheels and her yellow vomo-catcher that the kids can smile about.

But I don't 'see' you, Gentle Readers. I miss you---even if I don't know you.

How can I learn from you, if you don't teach with your words. Tell me where I am wrong? What rings false? What rings true?

Want to share? I do. I want to read what you know you through your written thoughts.

So how about it? How about nailing a message to the tree?

Friday, September 4, 2009

'Tis The Season

by Pat Antonopoulos

...for football.
The huge business season has started...the hype, the hero-waving, the gladiator feel to the arena. Pre-season, tail-gating, scheduled games and the Super Bowl selling will continue until February. Athletics are trained, skilled and high dollar players in the economy that is Football.

Fans are pay-as-you-go and the TV remote is easy to use so there is no incursion. Participation is by choice.

At one time I did make the choice. I loved the high school Friday night games and cheered the Chiefs when Lennie Dawson quarterbacked in the 60's. A few years ago, we sat in the snow watching the Chiefs and the Lions at Arrowhead. Loved it!

What changed?
Maybe a situation that was quickly relegated to old news.
A story detailing the treatment of dogs has affected me deeply. We don't own a pet...haven't had a dog since my children were young. My adult children have dogs that are well cared for and genuinely loved.

I feel sick when I think about dog-fighting and about adult people cheering the vicious bites and the bloody pain. I feel sick and sad when I see the pictures of maimed animals and read about the torture.

And this horrible treatment of animals and football have melded. Because of the easy reparation and the quick forgiveness, I have lost any sense that football is a game. It is strictly business and the bottom line for business is a dollar line.

The Wheels Fell Off the Day..... and oh, yeah, the Battery Died

Patti Dickinson

Wednesday night. Countdown to Meghan making her first solo drive from the driveway to school. All of two miles. Backpack. Check. Volleyball bag, complete with knee pads, shorts, t-shirt, Gatorade (strawberry) and shoes. Check. Lunch, turkey sandwich, three oreos, pretzels and a banana. Check. And ---- (drum roll here.....) the car keys. The car is in the driveway, aimed the right way to prevent any backing up into the house before the sun is up (not a way to start the day from a position of strength!) and all is at the ready.

After dinner on Solo-Driving-Eve she and her dad go out to check the car for gas (the last kid to drive the car was one of my college kids who is not known for keeping the tank topped off) and Wood shows her, just as a review, how to turn the headlights on.

The morning dawns. A quick bowl of Cheerios for Meghan, I hug her goodbye, following her out into the driveway so I can get the newspaper. I scoop it up, and head back down the driveway, fully prepared to jump sideways into the grass if she gets a little heavy-footed with the gas pedal, getting started. I joke with my kids all the time about getting "run over by a bus" when we talk about the time that I do not plan to spend in the nursing home....) And I listen. There is no purr of an engine (although this clunker hasn't purred in years..) There is no engine sound at all. She is sitting in the driver's seat, totally baffled. "The car won't start." I say, "Hmmm, maybe the battery is dead." And simultaneously, we say, "Ohhh no. We turned the lights on, but we didn't remember to turn the lights off."

A complete fizzle. Wood took her to school.

But this morning...she drove out of the driveway, grinning from ear to ear, hands at ten and two o'clock.