Gangsta Christmas

Every morning I wake up to another sappy Christmas commercial that emotionally hijacks me and leaves me all weepy in my honey nut Cheerios. For example: the Hallmark tear-jerker that keeps replaying of the lonely soldier in Afghanistan opening up a Charlie Brown book with his little boy’s voice warbling out the Christmas story –sob, sniffle, sniffle, sob.

Enough is enough!  Instead of another blog post on the most amazing Christmas gift I’ve received, or even the most meaningful, how about a tribute to the worst Christmas Day ever?  Yessss…I knew you were in for it.

On a dismal and dreary Christmas morning about ten years ago (a rarity in sun drenched So Cal) my family and I loaded up all the gifts, pies and babies (Kyle was 4, Faith was 1) into our Expedition and with my father and step-mom closely following in the car behind us, we caravanned to the kids’ grandparents (on their dad’s side) in a nearby beach community.

On the way over we sang snowman songs and goofed around.  The roads were quiet and eerily still and we made quick time on the freeway, exited onto a road in a rather bad neighborhood (but one we drive through all the time) and continued on our way. 

All of a sudden, a car coming in the opposite direction u-turned directly in front us and screeched to a halt within inches of our stunned faces.  The kid’s daddy (Brent) threw on the brakes and my father (Papa Ken) stopped quickly behind us almost hitting us.  I looked up and saw a black Escalade hot on the heels of the junky car that had just blocked our path.

The door of the junky car flew open and a man tumbled out with a look of sheer terror on his face, never taking his eyes off the Escalade.  He darted right then jerked to the left as if he was carrying a football into the end zone then dashed across the street directly in the path of our car.  Within a nanosecond, one of the heavily tinted windows of the Escalade lowered and a hand appeared with a large ominous gun tracking the fleeing man.  The man raced across the front of our car and the gun followed his every move.

I screamed “move, move, move!” like a commando from Rambo.   Brent looked at me in confusion because he didn’t see the gun at first, then realized what was happening and quickly moved into action.

I whipped around and motioned for the kids to get down (difficult when babies are in car seats) and hollered at Brent to back the car up and get us out of there pronto.  Brent threw the car in reverse like one of the Duke’s of Hazard boys and maneuvered around Papa Ken’s car motioning like crazy for him to back up. 

The man kept running and a single shot fired off from the gun but missed him –and even more thankfully –us.  The black Escalade roared to life and took off after the man down the side street.  The junky car sat in the middle of the street abandoned, with the door wide open and blocking traffic.

Brent pulled over and we quickly called the police and choked out the incident in bursts of adrenaline.  The police asked us to come in and give them a report. 

Everyone decided it would be best to drop off the hysterical wife (namely –me) at Brent’s parent’s home with the kids and then go back to meet the cops.

I sat at the house in a trance of tremors and tears while my in-laws tried to console me but I was shaken to the core with this near brush of violence.  The last thing I expected on a merry Christmas Day was a drive-by shooting initiated by gangster thugs. 

Who shoots people on Christmas Day anyway?  And what the heck did the guy do to deserve to be hunted down like an animal?

All these thoughts swirled through my brain and then finally peace washed over me like a gentle wave.  And I knew that even in the midst of this terrible awful, I would appreciate this Christmas day like never before.  I held my babies tighter, breathed in their sweet sugary cookie smell, and enjoyed my family with an unfamiliar intensity.

I discovered on that eventful day that sometimes the best Christmas gifts are wrapped in the worst possible circumstances. 

Appreciation rarely reveals itself in the obvious; it’s subtle and generally involves suffering and trial.  And just like the soldier sitting all alone in a tent in the Middle East yearning for his family, I understood all that I had to lose in a split second.

So if your Christmas stinks this year –let it be a reminder of better times, both in the past and yet to come (Lord willing).  And relish the gift of appreciation, unconventionally wrapped, often missed but when found –deeply treasured.

(I know, I know…Halmark wants me to write for them)

What do you appreciate this Christmas?  What do you long for? Do you have a worst Christmas tale?

 

 

 

 

Putting the “Fun” Back into Dysfunction

Normally by this time of year I’d be up to my ears in Christmas cheer, volunteering, filling bags of gifts for kids of felons, and helping to clothe and feed the homeless. But this December, due to a demanding writing schedule I’ve been a bit lax in my elvish duties. I’ve watched instead of engaged.

So in a guilt ridden effort to do at least one noble deed for the greater good, I want to acknowledge those that have stepped up to the plate.

Take my ex-husband “Uncle Brent” for instance. (For more details of this twisted relationship see the Dysfunctional Family, and “NO” I am not from Arkansas or Appalachia or mountainous communities where we marry our brothers).

A few weeks ago Uncle Brent mentioned he and his wife “Auntie Lauren” wanted to serve the homeless. I just happened to have a flier from church with a list of all the “do good” activities I planned to do but put off (no judgment please).

But Brent actually followed through and took my two older kids (Kyle and Faith) last Saturday to serve in downtown Santa Ana. My son Kyle filled me in on their adventure. He told me the leader of the group –Randy, asked Brent if he knew how to pray. Brent replied “yes.” So Randy informed Brent that he was now in charge of praying for the whole group before they tended to the poor. (No pressure!)

Now this might not sound like a big deal to most of you –but it’s kind of a big deal to my son, to me and maybe to Brent too. He hasn’t been super involved in church in a long time –since our divorce, actually (eight years ago), and in a roundabout twisted way, it felt sort of redemptive.

I never wanted to be the reason someone turned away from God but in all the mess of the divorce, I clung to the church in my (victim mentality) righteousness and Brent moved away in his (bad-guy) shame.

The truth is there should be room for both of us and God makes no distinction between the prodigal son and the older brother who played by all the rules.

It took me a long time to embrace forgiveness and understand true mercy, to let go of my anger, move towards healing and learn to love my ex-husband like a real brother. Fortunately the benefits of extending grace have far outweighed the excruciating refinement of my crusty character.

I can honestly say I enjoy co-parenting my son and daughter with Uncle Brent and Aunt Lauren. I know all of you divorced parents out there are like, “Really?” Yes! Really. I pinky swear.

I love watching my husband and ex-husband hang Christmas lights together and bumble around on the boom, seeing little Kolby squeal with delight when Auntie Lauren comes over, and I am overwhelmed with emotion when I hear my boy telling me about his dad leading a group of humble servants in prayer and service to the poor and needy.

And to me…this is what it’s all about.

To seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

(Oh yeah…and TO FORGIVE. Even when it’s hard)

From the Keller’s to Uncle Brent and Aunt Lauren…we love you and Merry Christmas.

Samantha, Tim, Kyle Adams, Faith Adams, and Kolby Keller

If you would like to jump on board this Christmas and help out the poor in the South Orange County area, here is a list of service opportunities through Mariners Mission Viejo Church.

Spread the Love by serving this year! And if you sign up, let me know and I’ll join you.

Waffle Irons and Black Friday Ninja Skills

“That’s my mama,” says Kolby, pointing to me as I drive while talking to her sister.  My toddler’s burgeoning vocabulary makes me chuckle and I glance at them in the rearview mirror.

Faith smiles at Kolby.  “Yes, that is Kolby’s mama,” she agrees.  “But its Faith’s mama too.”

Kolby narrows her gaze into a territorial sneer, “No Faith.  That’s Kolby’s mama.  Not Faith’s mama.”

And so Faith volleys back and the next thing I know the car is filled with the wails of an almost two year old and her ten year-old sibling bickering over who has claims to me.

“Mine.”

“Ours.”

“No Faith, mine mama.”

It was funny at first –this cuteness of a toddler ensconced in a world where everything belongs to her; where sharing is optional and highly overrated (in Kolby’s opinion). 

But as we move into the holiday season and I reflect on our culture, I don’t know if the world operates much differently than an entitled baby fighting over her mama.

Last week’s Black Friday headlines have left me scratching my head and wondering what the hell is wrong with our country?

And even though I love Target and Wal-Mart, (as much as the next women out there who can pick up power tools and Goldfish all in one store) I have to wonder what kind of ideology I am buying into when the Target add on TV depicts a woman training for the super athletic event of shopping. 

After this year, maybe next year’s ad could show the woman training with weapons, like the lady in Walmart who pepper sprayed a group of shoppers to get to an X-Box? 

Or they could show her at the gun range learning how to protect her loot, maybe jousting with a waffle iron, or learning ninja smart phone skills to take down those pesky people who get their grubby hands on your goods.

Mine. Mine. Mine,

How about practicing the art of the trample?  There’s a nice pastime to usher in the Christmas spirit (and yes this is pure sarcasm because I know I will get a comment or another blogger posting Samantha Keller advocates trampling.  I do not nor have I ever trampled…just to be clear!)

But I am appalled at the greed and inhumanity Black Friday reveals about the state of our hearts.  Clearly, some Americans feel so entitled to a get a good holiday deal they will even kill for it. Really? 

We now have two holidays that have mutated. What are we going to lose next?

Halloween –dress like a slut day and Black Friday –act like an animal at the mall day.  (Use violence if necessary)

I’m taking a stand and reclaiming this Christmas. 

It’s not about Santa or the “Christmas Spirit”, the lights (though they are fun), the presents (which are grand) or the food (even though I sure love pie). 

Christmas is about a baby, born in a manger and a big God who made himself small to be with us.

And this Jesus is mine. And yours. And ours. 

Buy less stuff!  Instead of “Go Big or Go Home,” how about “Go Small and Go Home (and be with your loved ones.)

 

No room for the homeless in suburbia?

 He caught my eye as I drove up O’Neil Parkway – straggly beard, matted hair, tattered clothes-it was the distinct look of the homeless and my head whipped around in a double take. He staggered down the street, eyes cast downward, muttering to himself.

For those not familiar with my So Cal neighborhood of Ladera Ranch, it is the Disney of master-planned suburbia.  It’s manicured, lush and disturbingly homogenous. Deviation, unless it’s in Christmas light selection is seriously frowned upon. The Ladera association won’t tolerate any brown spots on our lawns and when we left our garbage can outside our backyard fence for a couple of days it provoked an association letter referencing a bylaw stating that no garbage cans can be visible from the street. 

“Oh no…What are they going to do with this guy?” I groaned to baby Kolby in the backseat. She slurped on her pacifier in response.

I tentatively pulled my car over to the right thinking I would stop and talk to the man, but the vehicle on my tail honked at me for blocking the one lane road.  Flustered, I drove on home and told myself I’d stop the next time I saw him, which turned out to be exactly two days later.

I turned the corner on Antonio to grab some nosh before church at the golden arches (yes I know, I’m an egg McMuffin addict) and noticed there were three police cars on the shoulder with lights flashing. I looked around for the cause of disturbance, figuring it must be pretty big to garner soooo much attention, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. 

And then I saw him, the devious criminal in question and my mouth fell open-it was the same homeless man I recognized two days earlier, only this time surrounded by five policemen. The cops had their arms folded and were questioning the man. I stared in bewilderment.  Does it really take a posse of cops to deal with one guy?

After the recent death of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, emotions are high, even in Ladera Ranch, and the police force are being very careful around delicate issues (like the mentally ill and homeless among our midst). 

I entered the drive-through and picked up my food, straining to see what was happening, and then quickly drove back around.  The police had cleared out and so had the man. I didn’t see him anywhere on the long stretch of road, so he must have been escorted in the back of their car to another location.

Now, Mission Viejo (which Ladera Ranch is a part of) doesn’t actually have a shelter for the homeless.  When perusing the Mission Viejo Homeless Shelters & Services for the Needy website, I noticed the nearest shelter is 13.08 miles away in San Clemente.  This alone is disturbing on so many levels because there is nowhere for the homeless man to go.  Did the cops drop him off at the city border or did they take him to the nearest shelter in another city that accepts the poor?

Ironically, according to a blog contributor from Watchdog.com, Mission Viejo doesn’t have a homeless problem.  “I’ve seen two people passing through who seem to be homeless, but I’m unaware of any homeless person living here. The homeless people I know of (a man and a woman) have mental issues, and they’ve already rejected the idea of going to shelters. The woman told me about her distrust for government and the system. She’s living on the street because that’s where she wants to live.”

In my opinion, if Mission Viejo doesn’t have a homeless problem, it’s only because the homeless are clearly not welcome here. Now, I recognize this isn’t about the police–the cops are just doing their job (and I am so grateful)–it’s a much deeper issue that goes to the very heart of humanity.

It’s as if we, in Ladera Ranch/Mission Viejo pretend the marginalized in society don’t exist, when the truth is-in this economy-we are all merely one natural disaster or bad decision away from being homeless ourselves.  It’s just that most of us have become so skilled in image management you would never know the true state of our financial affairs. 

Much of Ladera Ranch is in debt up to their eye-balls, properties are foreclosing every day and most people are desperately trying to hold onto homes whose value has plummeted by half.  The only difference between this homeless guy and many of us is a credit card and a job we are clinging on to for dear life.  And our coping mechanism may not be in a brown paper bag, but we find it in an old prescription for anti-depressant meds sitting in our medicine cabinet.

And yet despite the overwhelming economic woes, I get the impression, though no one says it out loud, that having the eyesore poor (i.e. homeless) in plain sight might lower our home values (even more) or somehow destroy the neighborhood. I can only guess the film crew for my Real Housewife neighbor would take every precaution to leave the homeless guy out of the shots in our little paradise.

Why are we so afraid of poverty and brokenness? It’s not a contagious disease. Is this really who we want to be- people living in a gilded cage with no room for the less fortunate?

I understand the appeal of a place like Ladera Ranch. It woos me with its Mr. Rogers charm, but a nagging feeling remains, at what cost have we created our idyllic little utopia?

Poor Barbie get’s dissed

I have a confession. I played with Barbie and Ken dolls well into 8th grade, until the very threshold of high school.  Pathetic, I know, but I liked my fantasy world of happy endings, perfect blonde hair, and makeshift clothes I sewed by hand.  I had no idea my secret little doll addiction was so detrimental. Apparently, Barbie is guilty for not only warping my body image standards, but now the big B’s been tearing down the rainforests as well. 

Greenpeace activists are repelling off the Mattel building in downtown LA dressed as Ken dolls to protest Indonesian rainforest destruction.  Greenpeace asserts the pretty boxed packaging used to highlight Skipper and her modern Barbie babes are responsible for the continued devastation of the world’s delicate ecosystems.  They dropped a huge banner off the side of the Mattel building condemning this devious consumerist mentality.

I am all for green initiatives, but I have to wonder if this might be a tad extreme?  Might it just be a fun excuse to dress up and get an adrenaline hit scaling buildings like Spidey? It reminds me of Legally Blonde 2, when the sorority gals storm the capital to make a statement against animal testing. “Bruiser, Bruiser, Bruiser…”

 I guess now they are shouting “death to Barbie, Barbie, Barbie.”

Certainly, it has raised public awareness, but at what cost? I still like Barbie and will continue to purchase the dolls for my tots. And honestly, I would buy them in a 100% recycled box for a few more bucks, or even a fabric reusable bag (all the better to cut up for some more groovy outfits).

Mattel currently uses 95% recycled materials and has plans to be 100% by 2015, not too shabby as far I am concerned.  And while I empathize with Greenpeace, I also tend to agree with John, who commented below on the fiasco.

“When these groups do things like this, the focus instantly turns away from their cause, and it becomes about THEM.  Their work ends up being all in vain.  Their cause gets overshadowed by their antics, and the spectacle they create.”

In my opinion, isn’t the bigger issue to create a world where each person takes personal responsibility as a steward of the planet?  Simply because, as humanity, we are all intertwined and deeply connected in a world with limited resources.

Maybe they should make a PC Green Barbie and she can be an activist who get’s arrested to save the planet. A little toy bulldozer in the box would be cute!

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-greenpeace-mattel-20110608,0,2905499.story

sexual harrassment

It started in my very first job.   At least once a week, the owner of the almost billion dollar corporation I worked for, would walk up to me and drop his pencil very obviously in front of me. It was his little running joke.

“Oops, I seem to have lost my pencil.  Can you grab that for me Sam?”

Mr. CEO would start drooling and giggling as he waited for me to bend down and pick it up, hoping for a glimpse of either leg or cleavage as I was forced to bend over awkwardly in heels. 

Then there was the vice president (also from the same sleazy tech company) who approached me at the office Christmas party and talked to me about my ministry aspirations.

“Sam, I hear you are in seminary getting your masters in theology,” Mr. VP asked with an inebriated smile.

“Yes Sir, I am.”I replied.

“Wow, that’s hot.  I think we could have a religious experience together.  You could tie me up and make me say Oh God over and over.” Mr. VP raises his arms in the air and demonstrated how he would like to be tied up.

I weakly smiled at him and ran as fast as my heels could carry me to HR.  

But yesterday, oh yesterday, took the cake.  This time the comment was launched not from my own place of business, which is refreshingly drama free, but it came from a client.  And therein lays the dilemma.  You can tell a boss to go climb a tree, and threaten to report him, but how do you tell the client he’s an A-Hole?

I walked in to Mr. Client’s office with my boss for an impromptu conversation after a previous meeting nearby.  This customer was not one of my accounts, so I had zero context for the meeting and decided to keep my mouth shut and watch their interaction.  As we stood to leave, Mr. Client turned to me and launched his bomb.

“You certainly contributed to the conversation.  So, is this what you do all day?  Do you drive your boss around and let him sit in the backseat and make calls.  Is that your job?”  He dangled his keys in front of my nose as he leered at me and insinuated that I was my boss’s very personal assistant and valet.

Anger surged deep within my spirit and I bit my tongue until it bled.  I glared at him, thought about the consequences of telling him off, and then stomped out the door. 

The problem with harassment is it goes hand in hand with the feeling of entrapment.  It feels like you are screwed however you approach the situation.  If you make a big deal about it and go for the jugular, you lose credibility in your field and become one of those red flag people.   Or conversely, if you ignore it, the situation can escalate and lead to bigger problems.

With my first company, I documented and reported the incidents with the temporary HR person, who was then replaced by a more appropriate candidate who looked the other way at the corporate bigwig’s mischief. It goes without saying that certain companies are experts in managing their image, no matter how debaucherous it is.

I often wonder how many of these incidents go unreported in the workplace and I imagine women, and yes… even men have to figure out appropriate boundaries with inappropriate people every day.  I also presume that until more people call attention to this issue, jerks like the one I encountered yesterday will continue to be unchecked power-hungry JACKWAGONS (and yes…that felt good to vent).

I take some delight in pondering the perfect comeback to drop on this guy if I should happen to cross his path again.  Or, I guess I could simply mention his name and company on the internet.  (Just saying…)

beautiful mistakes

There is nothing quite like a captive audience (even if you have to bribe them to be there). Tonight I am so excited to speak for the second time at Birthchoice. For those of you unfamiliar with this nonprofit, they are a pro-life health clinic dedicated to helping and equipping young moms (and even a few single dads) with parenting and life skills, as well as preparing them to have healthy relationships.

When the young parents attend a class they earn points which can be used towards diapers and baby clothing. Therein lays the beauty of the scenario…a group of teens and young adults, all paying rapt attention. This is virtually unheard of in most realms.

One thing I learned from my last class is teen moms are just like all moms, but younger (profound, I know…).  No matter what the topic, all they really want to know about is labor, pain and nursing. And this ultimately, is what all expectant mom’s want to know about because it’s the big scary unknown.

I could have spoken on car seat installations and the first question would have been, “How bad does nursing hurt.” (Then again, maybe they weren’t paying attention?)

Of course, being the great instructor I am, I was completely honest and told them it hurts like hell.

One smarty-pants girl retorted, “Only if you’re doing it wrong.” (La Leche clearly has a new advocate)

Honestly, I was a little scared the first night I showed up. I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in the room and encountered all these curious eyes staring at me.

I didn’t know my heart would pound so nervously before I spoke, or how much I would enjoy bantering and playfully razzing the group. I certainly didn’t anticipate my spirit swelling with a profound ache.

Their courage was tremendous and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I wasn’t that brave at their age. I made mistakes.

I believe abortion is often (though not always) the quick fix and the easy way out.   I know that’s a loaded statement and many will disagree. I also know there are situations where rape and incest are involved and that certainly changes the parameters.

But this group of kids, despite the circumstances, were willing to take a risk, even though it was by far, the more difficult (at least initially) of the two paths.

I imagine few will ever regret their decision, while another generation of young women and men will struggle with shame and remorse for making a different choice.

I am humbled by their bravery.

We all screw up eventually, but few will choose to make beauty from ashes.

And a baby just might be the most beautiful mistake ever made.

A Picnic with Frank and Chuck

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Gas Stations and Beggars

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, suffering and injustice when he could do something about it.”

“Well, why don’t you ask Him”

“Because I am afraid that He would ask me the same question.”-Anonymous

                        ***

“Do you have any change? I ran out of gas and my kids and I are stranded,”

Startled, I backed up as the unfamiliar woman cornered me by my car as I filled it with gas.  It seemed like she had appeared out of nowhere and was now only inches from my face. 

“I’m so sorry, but I don’t have any money on me,” I explained, “Just my credit card.”

Sheepishly, she turned, and I started to breathe again when I realized she wasn’t going to rob me. She walked over to her car and my eyes followed her. She climbed in the front seat of a truck and I strained to see if there were kids in the vehicle with her. I didn’t see any, but I certainly wasn’t going to argue with her to cough up the kids before I gave her assistance.

I finished up at the pump and then started to frantically dig through my messy car to see if there were any quarters in the center console I could find for her.

My back was turned to the outside as I frantically looked for the coins, when I felt a light tap on my shoulder.  The hair on my neck rose as whipped around again.

In front of me stood a young blonde man, disheveled and in tattered clothes.  With a sad smile he asked me, “Do you have any money? I am trying to get to the beach.”

I shook my head no and climbed in my car and quickly shut the door.  Overwhelmed and feeling slightly hounded by all of the desperation, I started the car and drove off feeling conflicted and very much like Peter before the rooster crowed.  I suspiciously looked around for a third beggar.

“Ok God, I see them,” I muttered. “I see your people.”

I knew what God was up to. I had recently prayed a scary prayer.  Not the patience prayer (I am not that dumb) but the Bob Peirce prayer (the founder of World Vision). 

I had prayed with determined trepidation (like the great wuss I am) for my heart to be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

And now He was doing it.

Only the night before, I had shared with my husband how I felt God was stirring up in me compassion for the poor and needy.  I felt a sadness and burden for the oppressed that was rather foreign to my crusty and self-absorbed heart.  Every day, disturbing stories were coming across my path that brought me to my knees and a fire of righteous anger was beginning to slowly build inside my belly.

My husband asked me what my part was in this revelation.  I said there were two things.  I felt a tangible distance, almost desensitization from the magnitude of suffering in the world and secondly, I sensed God wanted me to write about it. 

The gas station, by the way, was in Anaheim, not some seedy part of Los Angeles or Santa Ana. Lately, I’ve been approached by beggars in the parking lot of Target in Mission Viejo, and repeatedly by a mother toting a little boy inside the Starbucks in Ladera Ranch.

The tentacles of poverty are spreading closer and closer to the insulated bubble communities we’ve built to keep it out. 

And suddenly, I can’t compartmentalize it all anymore; this mental box of poverty I’ve created that includes mission trips to Mexico and the sad little faces of children in Africa.  It’s not the separate place I make it out to be so I can sleep better at night.  Poverty is all around us and it’s too blatant for me to put it back on the shelf or cross off on a list of benevolent activities I do on a quarterly basis.

Honestly, poverty scares me. More than anything I think it’s the desperation.  Somehow, I’ve equated the poor with violence, and while they often do go together, I know they aren’t the same. Poverty seems to be more about limited options than aggression. But they get mixed up when I avoid the issue altogether.

I am afraid of changing and drawing close, but I am more afraid of doing nothing now that my eyes have been opened.

I wish I had some money with me in the car the other day. Although, reflecting on it later, it’s not like I couldn’t have bought the woman gas with my credit card.  My fear at times is paralyzing.

But next time, well…next time, I’ll be ready for the little tap on the shoulder.  In fact, I’ll be expecting it.

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No Tweets for CIA

Detail, Panel Three of Jenny Holzer's 2006 Tri...

Image by takomabibelot via Flickr

I have a secret.  I am totally obsessed with spies right now.  I started researching the CIA for an article, and now I am having a proverbial field day, ruminating on codes, pondering treachery and analyzing patterns of security breaches.  My brain is a convoluted mess of Hollywood idealism interspersed with car bombs in Iraq, Egyptian revolt and CIA headlines insinuating data errors.

Sadly, I don’t think I am alone in my fascination with our country’s defense, or lack thereof right now.  The media have pretty much guaranteed every quagmire in the world is played out before our very eyes.  And the effect of this supersaturation is an uprising in my spirit of an inner (dormant) bad-ass that wants to be freed. 

I am shocked at my own intensity because I am a relatively passive gal. I want to rally the troops, hack into satellite imagery of North Africa and go get the bad guys. Call it the “Ironman” syndrome, but deep down I think there is a hero in all of us, just waiting for an opportunity to get our hands dirty and fight for the oppressed.

I feel so helpless watching Cairo crumble. I  walked those streets, now filled with angry protestors, and sailed on the Nile only a few short years ago when my husband and I spent our honeymoon in the Mediterranean.

I have to laugh now at my naivete…because I  expected Cairo to look like the charming scenes of white washed buildings, dates and monkeys from the pre-World War II days depicted in Raiders of the Lost Ark

But reality is a far cry from Hollywood, and while the history and ruins were truly remarkable, the city itself was disturbing.  It was overcrowded, polluted and unsettling as an American.  I remember the guards on every corner with machine guns; the trash piled so high it created mountains, and the rebar stretching out like tentacles on unfinished buildings in a never-ending sea of millions of squatters.

 The whole time we were in Egypt, three very long days to be exact; I struggled to relax or let down my defense.  Just like Jason Bourne, I was acutely aware of my surroundings.  Unlike Jason Bourne, my ninja skills are limited to dangerous words and inciting comments. So, in the back of my mind, I plotted escape routes and assessed each pyramid for dudes with guns and danger.  Of course, just about everyone there has a gun, so it was a rather limiting exercise.

I almost had a heart attack when my husband decided to take a walk along the beach in Alexandria by himself without his shirt on(trust me…the abs were smoking).  I  knew he would be kidnapped and ransomed off as a sex slave. And then I would have to join the CIA and hunt him down myself!

But on a more serious note, when I saw this article on Yahoo news yesterday, Should spies spend more time on Twitter, my interest was piqued. It begs the question whether our Intelligence analysts should have the right to be eavesdropping on evil doers plotting death and destruction.  Hmmm…this is a tough one!  In all honesty, there are some days I only wish big brother would censure  people and their incessant updates. 

I struggle with the argument that free speech is being hindered by Intelligence analysts tracking known terrorists or even suspected terrorists on Twitter and Facebook? It’s not like the CIA is interested in anyone’s 400th picture of their baby with cereal on his face, or even for that matter,  those questionable pics from the office Christmas party that you “accidentally” got tagged in.  They are looking for something a little darker…like Osama Bin Laden and his minions!

But I may be alone in this sentiment, along with House Republicans and even president Obama, because the extension of the Patriot Act was voted down on Tuesday. Come again?

That’s right…voted down. 

I am getting pretty frustrated here.  Because by the time I am in ready to join the CIA, they will have had their hands completely tied by Washington, have almost no power left, and will be run by a bunch of teenagers whom, oh, by the way will be Tweeting all day, but not actually allowed to use Twitter for any real good; as in catching terrorists (see my last article.)

Where is Jack Ryan when we need him?

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