The two ladies are older of age, very elegantly dressed and extremely, extremely nice.

“Oh no, not them again.”

“Hi!” I peer through my half-opened door.

“Can we invite you to a party celebrating Christ? We…”

“Sorry, not interested.” I quickly close the door. What the hell is wrong with these people? It’s a beautiful Saturday and I had been relaxing with my feet up and wearing my most loose-waisted pair of pajamas. Why do they need to go around trying to push their beliefs on everyone else? If I want to join their religion, I’ll join their religion. I shake my head with disdain as I shuffle back to my bedroom.

But now, I have to learn to be more like them.

I’ve gotten involved with volunteering for some local causes. I haven’t gone door to door yet–although I’m sure that’s coming. Right now, I’m just the annoying person who calls your family around dinnertime.

This means that I have to learn to be persuasive. To be confident about what I believe.

In other words, I have to learn to evangelize.

***

“Oh, no…not them again.”

“Hi, do you have a moment to talk about climate change?”

“No, I don’t. Climate change doesn’t exist. It’s a myth.”

“But all the scientists say…”

“Yeah, sure. Did you need to interrupt my weekend to tell me about your fairy tales?”

“We’re only trying to save the world.”

*sound of slamming door*

***

So, do I have the guts to face this kind of rejection? Especially when it comes to issues I care deeply about?

Perhaps it would be easier to proselytize about something a little more frivolous.

“Do you have a moment to talk about how delicious dark chocolate is?”

Or, even better:

“Do you have a moment to talk about cute kitten videos?”

I bet nobody would close their door to that. And that makes me kind of sad.

Scary as it may be, I hope I will go out there and discuss the things that really matter.

The man being interviewed clears his throat thoughtfully, as he ponders the really big dilemmas. Does alien life exist out there in the universe? Will we find it–or will it find us–one day?

I think the entire conversation is silly. We’ve been receiving alien transmissions for a long time. All I have to do to hear them is turn the radio dial.

“Who knows if the theory of evolution is true? And who cares? Why would you even ask anyone about it…it’s such a gotcha question!”

“Kbbhhlth…zgfffx…Women who want equal pay are angry feminazis….”

Somewhere in the darkest reaches of space, a planet is spinning wildly. Its empty canyons echo with the sounds of Joni Ernst’s manic laughter, its silence occasionally interrupted by the sobbing call of the orange-hued Boehner. It’s beaming its signals back to the reality I inhabit. Its messages are enigmatic and difficult to decipher.

“It was a good decision to go into Iraq…bleep bleep blorp…”

What in God’s name are these lifeforms trying to say? Either this is a civilization so advanced that I am unable to follow the twists and turns of its logic, or these aliens have spent such a long time breathing in their own unique atmosphere that it has driven them nuts.

The serious question is, why do I continue to spend my time intercepting their radio communications, trying to make sense of the garbled noise they broadcast? I could listen to NPR, which reports on actual Earth news as opposed to that of an alternate universe. The NPR hosts speak in measured, reasonable tones. The guests are experts in their field. They don’t scream at the people they disagree with, or break down weeping, or rave with excitement about the upcoming end of the world. So why do I change the station?

Could it be that I’m just a little bit crazy myself? Could it be that I have an attachment to my beliefs which is unreasonable, immoderate, irrational? Is it easier for me to identify with these strange creatures which lose their temper when they care too much, than with the humans who calmly explain how they feel?

Whatever the case, I will keep listening for the sounds of the insane planet, listening to it whirling in the darkness, while I sit in front of the radio and whirl around my own confused axis.

Spring has come unseasonably early here in Oregon, and I can sense things stirring in my backyard already, pushing and slicing their way to the surface. They don’t want to wait until a more reasonable time–they want life right now. Vines are slithering out of the ground, soft and green. The sprouts in the veggie patch are starting to spread their tentacles. Buds are bursting open on tree branches, and the tiny finches, which have been waiting for this all through winter, are tearing them to pieces with their hard beaks.

I want to shut my door and keep Mother Nature out. I distrust Her on good days, and fear Her on worse days. She is out to get me. I will put on music to block out all that happy growing noise, and savor the little bits of my world which I can control. Cut roses in a vase. Nuggets of meat on a plate. My pet dog. I can close the blinds and burrow deep into my bed. Let the messiness of the spring happen without me. In the comfort of my home, I can pretend that I don’t live in a wild universe.

Still, I can feel them from here, moving in the brown soil. If I don’t ever go out there, I will wake up one fine morning in a house covered with weeds.

When is the fall coming back again?

It’s funny–I’m thinking that to most progressives like me, Barack Obama’s presidency has been a bit of a struggle and a letdown. It’s my own fault. My expectations were way too high. It was hard not to get swept away in the idealism of the moment back in 2008. Reality could never live up to that, for so many reasons, whether because the President himself wasn’t gutsy enough or because the Republicans hated him too much. The presidency itself has become mired in so much nastiness–government shutdowns and gridlock and calls for secession and endless vitriol–that it’s difficult to recall that once upon a time, it was inspirational to watch this guy get elected.

So it’s been a little surreal to see Barack’s old slogan “Yes We Can” take on a life of its own on the international scene. The Prime Minister of India recently used #YesWeCan as a hashtag to solicit suggestions from citizens about how to improve the country. And the Spanish anti-austerity party, Podemos, has been chanting “Si Se Puede” at its marches. I suppose that for people in those countries, the phrase has not become soiled by our domestic political wrangling. Or maybe the world still loves a catchy American meme.

I find the Spanish left-wingers especially humorous. Watch out, if you keep chanting that, you might get a…paralyzed center-right government? Oh well, perhaps their willingness to protest will get them what we haven’t been able to achieve. The Europeans are pretty good about standing up for themselves when they feel their quality of life is being curtailed.

My personal aspirations for “Yes We Can” are a lot more humble than they used to be. “Yes We Can” elect someone other than Scott Walker to be the next President? Please?

My blogging friend nananoyz recently posted about giving up her Candy Crush addiction. Naturally, this brought to mind my own online obsession…

Every day, I tell myself that I will only spend a little bit of time on it. And every day, I end up scrolling down and down, down the Facebook newsfeed rabbit hole, getting sucked into that swamp of pop culture detritus and endlessly repeated memes. After a while, everything runs together…suggestive selfies and announcements of a death in the family…funny dog videos and petitions about animal torture…inspirational quotes and sad break-ups and Darth Vader toys and cocktails and people Liking each other and telling each other how beautiful and awesome and amazing they are in a giant skin-deep clusterfuck of momentary connections…I can’t stop to think about any of it anyway, because there is the next thing to see and the next…

An hour or so later, I surface again, my brain dulled, my eyes glazed over, my attention span shrivelled down to that of a fruit fly with ADD, so that I have a hard time focusing for the length of a stupid Taylor Swift song. “It’s okay. Tomorrow I’ll only a spend a few minutes on it.”

But the compulsion to shoot myself up with junk remains, and the Facebook dealer is always there, giving its goods away for free, tempting me with those shiny pictures and videos. What if I miss out on stuff? OMG! I have to check Facebook!

Lord knows, if I didn’t, I might actually end up caring about something important….

Well, it’s almost time for the Super Bowl.

No, I don’t mean the actual Super Bowl. The only time I’ve watched that was when Prince played the halftime show. Prince totally won that game.

I mean *my* Super Bowl–the election season. It sounds like Hillary is about to break the shocking news that she’s running for President any day now, and Romney has already indicated that he is going to serve his reheated Mittsie stew to a conservative base which wasn’t that crazy about it the first time around.

Politics is my hobby and my spectator sport. Yeah, I realize that the question of which party wins the 2016 election will likely not make a huge, earth-shaking difference in my life. The country is too divided for any drastic changes to happen, and both the Democratic and the Republican candidates are too beholden to their wealthy donors, so…. But I won’t lie–I like rooting for a team. I don’t care about muscles and the ability to throw a ball around, so teams of jocks fail to interest me. I’d much rather root for the nerd who does the most eloquent job of explaining economic policy. My games take place on C-Span.

So I’m getting ready. I’m checking out the horses which might be running in the race. I’m doing finger stretches for the hardcore blogging to come in the next couple of years. I’m preparing my finest witty jabs for my online conservative friends. Yep, this is our time, my fellow political junkies.

Oh, and since I’m in the Northwest…go Seahawks. I guess.

I’m a happy sucker for canned foods. I completely agree with the person–I think it was some generic Portland indie rocker–who said that opening a can of food is a little bit like opening a present. Some of my most contented moments in life happen while cracking open a can of herring in tomato sauce or baked beans. My love for canned food is also prompted by the fact that I will do just about anything to avoid cooking. I thank the gods on a regular basis for having been born in a time in which I don’t have to cook, or sew my own clothing, or churn my own butter… People tell me that gratitude is important, and so here’s something I’m grateful for–my laziness.

Another connoisseur who clearly appreciates the modern genius that is canned food–and its many uses–is the principal of W.F. Burns Middle School in Valley, Alabama, Priscella Holley. She has sent a letter to the parents of her students requesting that the kids bring in cans of food so that they can be used as weapons. The way this will work is that there will be a stash of cans in the classroom, and if an intruder enters the school, the kids can throw the cans at him. The principal expressed the hope that this would distract the intruder or even knock him out.

Predictably, the biggest criticism of this idea has come from the people with a gun fetish, who wish everyone in the school would be armed. To each their own kinks, I suppose. I, for one, think there’s nothing more heartwarming than a photo of a middle school class surrounded by machine-gun-wielding teachers, Third World Somalia-style.

In any case, for the first time in my life I have a reason to visit Alabama–free canned veggies! But am I woman enough to accept the challenge? Would I be brave to enough to stroll into W.F. Burns on a surprise visit, knowing that there will be a herd of middle schoolers waiting to hurl cans at me? Should be easy enough to grab a few of the projectiles and retreat quickly, or so one would think. But middle school kids are frightening creatures. I know, I remember them. They might point their fingers and make fun of me, and send me screaming and crying for the door without being able to complete my mission. Hmmmm.

I wonder if the kids at W.F. Burns like herring?

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