Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trying Times

So my entry a couple days ago on Pope Benedict XVI ended up causing somewhat of a ruckus over at the newspaper's Huckleberries, my favorite local round-up blog. It started when DFO (Dave Oliviera, our fearless leader) listed at this link my "pope's problems" blog entry from a couple days ago as a "recommended reading" link. Cabbage Boy commented on the church and the media (which I figured referenced me a little, but not directly) and then Spokelooneh said "Beth is right" and posted a longer entry. At that point, I figured I should get involved, and so I said this:

Thanks, Spoke. I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this pope, that I didn't post on my blog - including the horror I felt when he was elected (since he'd previously been in charge of the CDF, which is the current grand inquisitor office - still sits on the same land, in fact); and then the hope that I had as he took certain actions and said certain things over the past couple of years on this issue… and then now, when I just feel sucker punched, realizing those had to have been political moves, at least in part. And I knew that before. It just wasn't “in my face” at the time.

I don't know why I get my hopes up, just to have them dashed upon the rocks. I posted what I did on my blog because I felt an obligation to say something. And what I said, I felt I could say with conviction. Absolutely, this pope has known, as has every leader in the church. It's the structure of the church that makes it so….

So then Cabbage Boy asked me what my real issue with the Church is - that they don't ordain women as priests? And I said oh my gosh, no. Here's what I said:

Oh. CB. I was one of the lawyers on the Catholic cases over here in Spokane. My issue is about children, and the cover-up, and how that happened, and how I expect it to happen again because the hierarchy has changed the letter of its law but just simply has not understood the spirit. I'm pretty outspoken about my issue here. No hidden agenda. Sure, I think it would make sense to have women priests and/or flexibility with celibacy rules, things like that. But those aren't issues for me. I certainly have never said anything about those issues, nor did I ever critique the Catholic church until after Boston erupted in 2002.

I am lucky that the priests I have known in any depth have all been amazing men, men of God. My issue is not with those individual efforts - it is with the hierarchical structure that lent itself to obfuscation and cover-up, and continues to do so. Nothing less than the safety of children is at stake.

Then others (Sue in particular) said that yes, the issue just may be the lack of ordination of women, and then there was more back and forth.. And then DFO (our fearless leader) decided to post my first comment as its separate link and asked people if they thought the Catholic church was doing what it could to ensure children's protection. And the overall comments were, no. It isn't (with Sisyphus apologizing to Cabbage Boy - apparently the topic has arisen before). Here's a link to that discussion.

What I appreciate is how my local community - blogging and otherwise - have made efforts to grapple with this issue these past couple of days - a discussion that is taking place in other pockets around the country and the world. To me, that's a silver lining. These aren't easy questions, and it isn't an easy topic to discuss. But at least people are trying.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Pope's Problems - with UPDATE

People - friends, family members - have been emailing articles this week about the problems that have arisen these past couple of weeks for the Catholic church and for Pope Benedict XVI in particular. They include actual admissions of responsibility (!) by some of the hierarchy in Ireland; a revelation of truth about the way the office of the current pope - then known as Cardinal Ratzinger - encouraged the cover-up of priest abuse at a school in Wisconsin for the deaf; and more revelations about an abusive priest in Germany back when Benedict was Ratzinger and the Archibishop of the area.

Not only are the articles out there - I get sent about a link a day from various people - but there is a sense of renewed outrage and disgust by Catholics themselves, it seems. This is just my impression. But it seems to me that Catholics are angry at the church for these truths as they unfold.

Me? My surprise is not at the stories themselves. It is at the apparent shock of others that these stories exist.

Here's the deal. Back in 2002, when Boston erupted, the Catholic church's hierarchy put bandaids on anything that moved. They didn't replace bishops - they promoted them (like they did with Cardinal Law). There was no house cleaning - there was just a new version of covering things up. So how in the heck can I be surprised by specific evidence that the current pope - who has been part of this hierarchy for decades - would somehow not get caught up in revelations about pre-2002 cover-up efforts? Of course he played a role in it. How could he not have played a role? As it says in that last article I linked above, about what the current pope did (or did not do) as an archbishop in Germany:

The case is alarming, wrote the German newspaper Die Zeit last week, not “because Ratzinger was guilty of an exceptional offense.”

“It is the other way around: It is significant because the archbishop acted as probably most other dignitaries in those years,” it wrote. “In 1980 Joseph Ratzinger was part of the problem that preoccupies him today.”

My friends and I have been wondering how the pope would react to this new criticism. We all found out today, when he condemned the "petty gossip" surrounding all the above. Too clever by half, I think. Indeed, here is the summary of his sins in the "gossip" article:

The then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the archbishop of Munich when a priest was allowed to resume pastoral work with children even while receiving therapy for paedophilia. He was subsequently convicted of abusing minors. In addition, a case has come to light in which Ratzinger's deputy at the Vatican doctrinal office told Wisconsin bishops to quash a church trial for a priest alleged to have abused up to 200 deaf boys.

The Vatican insists the pope was unaware of the Munich priest's move to the pastoral job and has defended its handling of the Wisconsin case.

Doesn't that make it "gossip" with a record?

For me, the phenomenon is not that the pope looks complicit. For me, the phenomenon is that people are surprised. I always wondered how people (Catholics in particular) could have any reaction to the priest abuse crisis that was less than outrage. Now though, maybe I get it - it must be because they didn't really believe the whole Church could possibly be involved. It must be a few bad apples, not the entire Church (is what people must have thought) - it must be a coincidence that all the U.S. bishops sent their pedophile priests to the same retreat center in New Mexico.... Etc. Etc.

So, good. Be outraged now. Feel the betrayal now. Stretch into its parameters, and beyond. Better late than never. Just - don't think the hierarchy didn't know. They had to know. How could they not have known?

(and so I wonder as I sit on this beautiful Sunday morning, and listen to "Kyrie/Alleluia" music, and hope that this time, this time, the clear voice of Grace can be heard above the din...)

UPDATE: So things continue to unravel for the Pope. Here is an article about how his CDF office let flounder an investigation into a very scary priest in AZ - with the striking sentence that "The church considers cases of abuse in confessionals more serious than other molestations because they also defile the sacrament of penance." (!!) And here is a New York Times article on how a senior Vatican priest on Good Friday compared these new questions surrounding the church with the persecution of the Jews, and how pretty much everyone was astounded at the comparison. (I mean, seriously? Seriously?). He has since apologized for the comparison. Really, it cannot be done. This is not a witch hunt. As discussed in the New York Times article, it is a series of questions of who did what, who knew what, and when did they know it, and will they be held accountable for it. Period.

And then now, on Easter, as the church leaders rally around the Pope, one has to reiterate the theme of "gossip" and then start talking about the persecution that Jesus went through. Really, shouldn't they stay more grounded than that? Until the words "gossip" and "persecution" are taken out of their responses, the Church will not be able to regain any semblance of authority here, imo. And yes, there are words today, on Easter, of repentance and apology too. They are also a part of this truth.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Reformation

I blogged a lot last year on health care reform. I wrote a lot on the public option - give people a place to pay their premiums! - and I went to congressional meetings (one with Maria Cantwell, one with Cathy McMorris Rodgers). I was horrified at the traction that the phrase "death panels" got, when all the bill proposed was to give people the opportunity to not have to pay for a discussion with their doctor on end-of-life issues.

And even when I stopped writing about it - at some point these last couple of months, so exhausted I was by the rhetoric - I still followed it. I didn't actually sit and watch the seven-hour meeting between the parties, but I read synopses of it - cared about it - agreed with Sen. McCain that the special side deals should be taken out, was buoyed when the President said "good point".... I even got the chance to feel like a Microsoft commercial (you know, the ones where a single person who shared an idea with Microsoft believes the company actually got his email and ran with the improvement) because, on a recent Thursday, I called Maria Cantwell's office in D.C. and said that something needed to be done about all those pet projects, it was the principal of the matter, that I'm the choir for them and even I am unhappy about that... And then two days later, the Prez asked that the pet project funding be taken out of the final bill. Wow, I thought. I need to make phone calls more often!

But I didn't take part in that final push of phone calls this past week. I was still discouraged by the private deals, I suppose. Besides, in my corner of the world, the votes were already essentially cast (senators in favor, representative opposed). I did get the emails asking that I take this action or that... but for better or for worse, I let them slide.

Then, this past weekend, somehow I started to feel the enormity of it - how this was doing something that had simply not been doable at any other time - that this really was happening. I felt proud of the people who had kept on keeping on. I felt gratified that I had, at least, helped out early on, and periodically. And I was suddenly glad to see the bill pass, frailties and all.

Then on Tuesday, I received an email from Mitch Stewart, head of Organizing for America. The president wanted to talk to me. Well, now, apparently he also wanted to talk to his 500,000 or so closest friends (don't really know the number, am just guessing) but still, I was invited. "For all my hard work," the email said - or some such thing. Hmm.... I felt a little guilty, since I hadn't been working all that hard in recent weeks.

But still, I got on the call. And I heard the president thank us all. And I had a few tears, as I realized again the mountain that had been moved, by this bill being signed. He called it an "improbable journey" - and it was. He told us to savor the moment - and we did. He said that the bill "enshrines the idea that everyone" should have some security when it comes to health care - not just some, but everyone - and that once the principle is enshrined, it means that people will have enormously more secure lives than they do now. And he said that neither illness nor accident should endanger the American dream. That last line - schmaltzy, you know? - but it's right. He's right. It matters that much, at that much of a core level.

He said there was more work, to help explain what the bill really contains (and he went through a list - he mentioned, btw, that Congress will be on the exchange when it gets in place, which does give some hope that the exchange will work). He said - in response to a question - that one thing he learned was to stay focused, stay with the big picture, and then stay dogged. And then he said again, thanks - that our hard work was his inspiration.

This morning, I went on line and a few things warmed my heart again. One was this clip from the signing ceremony, where he spoke about young Marcelas. And then there was this excerpt from Teddy Kennedy's obituary from 2009 - from the Boston Globe:

Despite his illness, Senator Kennedy made a forceful appearance at the Democratic convention in Denver, exhorting his party to victory and declaring that the fight for universal health insurance had been "the cause of my life.’’

He pursued that cause vigorously, and even as his health declined, he spent days reaching out to colleagues to win support for a sweeping overhaul; when members of Obama’s administration questioned the president’s decision to spend so much political capital on the seemingly intractable health care issue, Obama reportedly replied, "I promised Teddy.’’
Those are the kinds of promises that have to be kept.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Exciting Game!

So I went to watch the Gonzaga women's basketball game last night with my friends whose niece is on the team. What a great game! So exciting. A nail biter. They seriously played an amazing game. One of their stalwart players was having an off night, but another player just stepped up instead. She ultimately got Player of the Game, she played so well - and scored the final jump shot that took them ahead and kept them there. We just jumped up and shouted at all the excitement. My throat is sore this a.m. This Gonzaga team has what great teams have - that kind of heart and teamwork that makes the difference in the close games.

And now on to the Sweet 16, for the first time ever. Congratulations, Gonzaga!


That hoopla you're hearing is Alex running around outside, yelling "freedom!" in meow language. Yes indeed, he got his stitches out yesterday. Everything's healed up well, or so it appears. He yowled all the way to the vet's office, but then was patient and cooperative when they took out all those itchy stitches and scabs from the side of his head. I told them he'd gotten kind of stinky (he of the fastidious cleaning habits!) because every time I took off the cone to let him tidy up, he'd start to mess with his ear and I would have to put the cone back on.... He wasn't bad, or filthy, he just wasn't as pristine as he prefers. So then they took a q-tip to his ears and he got a very contented look on his face like "oh, yes - right there..." as they cleaned out his ears for him.

I did ask if there were any rules at this point. "Well, don't let him get in the water," they said - apparently it's the instruction they give to dog owners - and we all laughed at the image of me putting him in the car and running him down to the lake just to try to throw him in. Guess who will end up with stitches if I try to do that!

Then we came home, and I opened the car door, and he leapt out, coneless, and looked at me like, "you're going to allow this?" Yep. You are free, I said.

It didn't take long for his nemesis Venom to come up and try to see how he was doing. I knew Venom was there without even looking because Alex crouched and growled in that low gutteral growl that he has when he's warning off enemies. This is what he looked like in that moment. Can you see how his fur is up on his back as he crouches forward?

I figured I wouldn't see Alex for days, now that he had his freedom back. But he stopped by the house after half an hour for a little snack, went back out, and bounced back and forth between the house and the outside for the next couple of hours. Then last night, he decided to cuddle up with me last night, even without that darn cone on his head. He's such a sweet guy. And a happy one. And one with freedom again.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Silver Lining

Well, both my college basketball teams lost - Gonzaga and Maryland. At least Maryland made it a contest. Sigh.

But there is a silver lining (besides all the wonderful basketball there was! so much fun to watch all the games). On Saturday night, the Gonzaga women's team won their game against UNC, in spectacular form. You can tell that they have been playing as a team for awhile. They just gelled. The niece of some friends of mine plays on the team, so I have followed them over the past couple years, and always look for her name in the paper. My gosh, they were good on Saturday! They play tonight again. I'll be watching...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Perfect World

Don't jostle it...

The Zags won. And so did University of Maryland (my law school alma mater). Maryland is actually playing in Spokane, though I didn't go see the game in person. Sigh. And the Zags - Gonzaga Bulldogs, for anyone who's confused - did try to lose. They went way up in the first half, waned a bit down the stretch in the second, then played really really smartly (word?) and ended up with a solid win.

So I'm basking in the outcomes today. And loving the two coaches, who have both been at their programs for decades and who both seem to approach the game in an overarching, student-comes-first way. (That would be Mark Few and Gary Williams.)

Tomorrow will be the next set of games. And anything can happen. Today, though - today is a day to enjoy outcomes, and the memories of games well played.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Well, it's that time of year again, when birds begin chirping, flowers begin blooming, and little Irish leprechauns begin cooking corned beef and cabbage. It's on this day every year (give or take a few years in the past) that my friend Jennifer and I become leprechaun helpers, as we cook that corned beef and cabbage for them. Today will be part of the norm, and we'll make a night of it. No Guinness, fortunately or unfortunately (fortunately). That, actually, was last Friday night, when a passel of us from the Huckleberries blog went to Spokane's local Irish pub (yes, there is one, called O'Doherty's). Some of us downed several Guinnesses. Some of us (like me) took a shot of Guinness, grimaced, and then ordered a lager. (Hey, at least I ordered a lager!) And then we ate greasy food and told stories. I told my story of having actually met the Guinnesses - Desmond and Penny - back when I was 21 and living in London and my British boyfriend was building the kitchen in their London flat, and they invited us to come visit them in Ireland in some castle or something, and me in my youth said oh, maybe next time I'm out this way.... Hey, I was out of money and I was getting ready to go home and - well, I had the optimism of youth. I actually believed I'd be back in a week or so. Have never made it back yet - to England, much less the Guinnesses' castle in Ireland. Wouldn't that be funny if I knocked on their door one day and said, "Here I am! What - you don't remember inviting me??"

The one thing I have done this past month or so is be in contact with my friends Charlotte and Julian from England, who I completely adored back then but then fell away from, as happens when we grow older.... I would love, love to go back and see them again... just emailed with Charlotte yesterday...

Between St. Paddy's Day today, and St. Guinness' Day last Friday and Charlotte's email yesterday - oh, and my recent entry about watching Peter Pan in London... all and all, it's been quite the United Kingdom week for me this week.

I do come by this Irish thing honestly. My maternal grandfather was half Irish. My mother tells a story of going to an Irish wake as a kid, and wondering why one of the uncles suddenly dropped his head into his plate, right into the mashed potatoes, and the adults saying, "Uncle is just very tired..."

Guinness, anyone?

Oh, and here's a link to what happened last Friday at O'Doherty's Pub.

photo credit: Mando Gomez, found here

Friday, March 12, 2010

Under God

It is at times like this that I feel in such a minority.

The Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday that the "under God" clause of the pledge of allegiance should stay. At Huckleberries, my favorite local blogging spot, there was a lengthy discussion about the decision. Most comments were well thought out. Most favored the ruling. Here's what they had to say.

So I commented too. Here is what I said:

In law school, there was one other student who disagreed with me on virtually every point that I made in class, except when I talked about keeping religion out of government. On that point, she always agreed. Her religion? Jewish. It is easy to be cavalier about people's rights and sensitivities until you yourself are the subject of the trampling. I haven't read the opinion. BUT my impression of the issue is that the “under God” cannot be salvaged under the “tradition” exception the Supremes have carved out, since it was only implemented in recent years (during McCarthyism - am I right?). So, instead, there is a new exception? I rarely have occasion to say the pledge of allegiance these days (isn't a “pledge” like a “prayer”?), but when I do, I leave out “under God” - I just don't say it - not because I don't believe in God - I do - but because I live in a country where there is freedom of religion - which includes the freedom to NOT have a religion. When I registered voters in NC in 2008 with a Vietnam Vet, there was one woman who said she wasn't registered because she doesn't want to vote. He told her he fought for her right to vote. I reminded him that he also fought for her right to NOT vote. This, to me, is just like that. It is a philosophy. It is a way of life. It is, after all, the American way. Or so I believe.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Poor Alex, Part 2

Well, it's been an eventful time these past few days in my normally-calm household. You may remember my most recent entry about Alex's misadventures, resulting in his abscessed ear. By Sunday night, and even with a bright yellow cone around his head to protect him from himself, things were not improving. So we went to the vet at 7 a.m. Monday morning, they kept him until 3 p.m. and ... well, a dose of anesthesia and several stitches later, I went to pick him up. We go back in 10 to 12 days to remove the stitches. The cone - a clear one, now - stays on until then (so he doesn't scratch the stitches out and we have to start all over). Here he is, this a.m.:

(You can't really see it in this photo, but he has quite an impressive set of stitches going down the right side of his face - made that much more impressive by the fact that all the fur has been shaved away.)

Poor Alex. He is so completely miserable. He doesn't even really want to go outside. He is trying to sleep the whole thing off, but he can't sleep all day long... so the mornings have become his time of day to meow very pathetically, not even strongly, to let me know that life is not good right now. I see his point. He walks as little as possible, and he looks like a drunken sailor when he does walk - even with the clear cone, I guess it's hard for him to see. And then the cone knocks into things when he walks, which just jars him. Then at night, it's like having a newborn in the house (or what I imagine that might be like, since I never actually had one). He sleeps curled up to me as close as he can get, but can't really sleep soundly, so we both end up waking up every hour or two. The inconvenience to me is nothing compared to the misery for him, I'm sure.

But this too shall pass, Alex. It will be a faint memory of the past, as though it passed right on through. Maybe we'll even laugh, the further down the road this becomes, as we remember what it was without all the drama attached. Well, and the photos bring a smile to my face already. Sorry, guy! But they do. Poor Alex.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Poor Alex

There's this new cat next door - a little black cat, who is somewhat sweet but just haunting Alex, one of my two cats. This little kitty comes over to our house, sits on our porch, climbs on our roof, and does what he can to be here. Annie (my other cat) has been okay about it, but it's driving Alex nuts. I sort of see his point. I mean, this is his house. Another cat shouldn't be all over his house! But Alex is taking this circumstance to extremes. Used to be, he would sit in the a.m. and peer out the front window, watching the world go by, content. Now, he gets up early and goes and sits by the side window, watching and waiting to see when this new little cat - "Venom" is his name - comes out for the day. Just sits and watches and waits. Here's what this looks like:

One morning a few weeks ago, Alex was outside, and Venom came up to the porch. Alex growled a warning at him. Venom kept coming. I went outside to encourage Venom to move on when Alex pounced - !! - on Venom, tearing into him. I started yelling, and used a large stick to separate them. They both stepped back and then - yikes! - Venom pounced on Alex and they were back at it, with me with the stick, shouting "Stop! Stop it!"

Finally they were separated. Alex went in to the house. Venom went back next door. Things seemed calm. For the next couple of days, though, Alex just laid around sleeping. He didn't want to go outside at all - not like him. I figured he had to have been scratched, but couldn't find a mark. Luckily Venom had decided to steer clear of the house, so the need to defend territory had subsided...

Then this past Friday, I saw it. Alex had an open wound on the inside of his right ear. Ah - that's why I couldn't find the mark. Such a weird place. An open wound is actually a sign of healing with cats, as scratches form abscesses and when the abscess breaks open, that means it's at the end of the infection process. So it looks gross, but it's a good sign. The vet agreed with me, that as long as Alex seemed okay, I didn't need to bring him in.

He slept all yesterday, seemed completely fine, went out this morning, was happy outside...

But then I got a gander at him. He has just scratched the heck out of the inside of his ear. What a mess! Yuck, yuck, yuck.

So I just went and got him one of those Elizabethan cones, I guess they're called, that go around the head. My neighbor helped me get it on him, but Alex didn't even resist. He just let us do it. But guess what? Now that it's on, he doesn't like it. At all.

Poor guy. First Venom tries to own his house. Then Venom fights back when he claims his territory. Then he gets a wound in a spot that he can bother if he tries. And now - this.

When We Believe

I have this story I tell about going to see "Peter Pan" at a matinee in London, back when I lived there in 1981 - of how magical it was, to see that show in a theater full of children. One of the boys sitting in front of me, there on a school trip, turned around to his teacher at intermission and said in his wonderful British accent, "This is super!" And it was.

I tell the story often enough that I ended up writing about it a few years ago. I thought, on today of all days, this year of all years, this moment of all moments, as I keep myself buoyed for all things possible, that I'd post that writing here. It's about seeing "Peter Pan" and that one moment... well - I'll let the essay speak for itself. (Imagine it read aloud - it's better that way.)
It happens every time - especially at the matinees, where virtually the entire audience is children. The children are sitting mesmerized because Tinkerbell has just downed Peter Pan's "medicine" - the vial that Captain Hook poisoned while Peter slept. Tinkerbell has just stepped in, just in the nick of time, and has drunk the medicine herself so that Peter won't die from it.

But what about Tinkerbell? What's happening to Tinkerbell? Her jingle is getting weak. It dawns on Peter what has happened. "The medicine was poisoned and you drank it to save my life!" He says. "Tink, dear Tink, are you dying?" He asks, as her sound grows weak. "Her light is growing faint, and if it goes out, that means she's dead! Her voice is so low I can scarcely tell what she is saying..."

He falls to his knees and leans down with his ear to the sound of her bell, getting as close as he can to hear her. Her light flickers weakly... "Jingle, jingle... tink... " (softly) "tink..."

Suddenly he turns to the children in the audience. His face is almost ashen, but there is a ray of hope there too. "She says - she says she thinks she could get well again if children believed in fairies!" he says, in awe himself that this might save her. He stands before the audience, rushes from side to side, wills them to hear him. "Do you believe in fairies?" He asks. "Say quick that you believe!"

This is when shouts come from the audience. Every time I have seen this play, shouts have come from the audience at this point (especially at a matinee, when there is a sea of children).

But it is the next line that moves the theater in to magic. For this is when Peter says, "If you believe.... then clap your hands! Clap!"

And they do. They clap. They clap to show that they believe.

And then, in the midst of their clapping, there is a flicker of light. And a jingle. And another flicker, another jingle, both stronger now. It is when we know - Tinkerbell's alive! She's been saved! "Oh, thank you thank you!" Peters says to the children in the audience...

Go sometime. Make sure it's a matinee, with an audience full of children. See for yourself the magic of that moment. Look at the children's faces. Feel your own heart. See what can happen when we believe. Feel what we feel when we believe. Do it. Go. I bet you clap.

photo credit: Liz West, found here

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Wyoming Way

I didn't grow up in Wyoming and, by all accounts, should have no claim to it. My mother should, as she moved there in 1979, the year I went away to college. My little sister should, because she spent her junior high and high school years there. My brother and nephew should, for various reasons. None of them live there anymore. But they all have true claims.

Me, on the other hand? The only times I lived in Wyoming was when I: worked in Laramie as a preschool teacher during the the summer of 1980 (oh, and as a maid at one of the local motels - how could I forget); then worked in Cheyenne in 1985-86 as a news reporter (one of the coolest jobs ever) - I had ten other jobs that year (paralegal, cocktail waitress, McDonalds cashier, to name a few....) (it was the recession and my mother said, don't let President Reagan know about you, or he'll include you in a speech and say "Look, there's plenty of jobs out there - there's one woman in Cheyenne, Wyoming who's had 11 jobs in three months!"); and then worked in Cheyenne again, in 1990, as a law clerk for a year. That's it.

No matter I wanted to move there permanently. No matter I only moved back to D.C. because of a job and a boy (no longer have either). No matter that I still have friends there - the kind of friends you have and remember for a lifetime. No matter that I cried - sobbed, really - driving down Pershing Avenue one day, as I realized I would be moving back to D.C., would not be staying in Cheyenne... No matter that Wyoming is, somehow, must be, in my DNA, because when I drive through it even today, and see that great expanse of land, or the antelope, or the Wind River Canyon, it does something to me that no other place does. It sends me back, perhaps, to something else.... another world...

No matter any of that. It isn't mine to claim. It isn't my politics (though I root for libertarianism). It isn't my upbringing (though I do have a pair of fancy cowboy boots). It isn't even my life philosophy (I need more people around).

Still, when I read this a.m. via an email from my mother that Dave Freudenthal, the Wyoming governor (who interviewed me, but did not hire me, for a paralegal job back in 1985) signed legislation Wednesday adopting an official cowboy code for all Wyoming citizens... well, I felt a little proud. And I wanted to put the creed up on a post-it note somewhere. So here it is.

Via this new code, Wyoming citizens are urged to "live courageously, take pride in their work, finish what they start, do what's necessary, be tough but fair, keep promises, ride for the brand, talk less and say more, remember that some things aren't for sale, and know where to draw the line."

Okay. I will.

It reminds me of the story - back in the 1980s, when Ed Herschler was governor of Wyoming - of how a national radio morning program decided to find out how governors get to work, how many of them have chauffeurs... So they called the various governor offices early in the a.m. to find out. When they called the Wyoming office, a gruff voice answered. "Hello," it said. "Uh, can we talk to the governor?" the radio guys said (snicker, snicker). "This is Ed," the voice said. Um... so they asked him how he had gotten to work that morning. "I drove," he said, slightly and simultaneously incredulous and perplexed. I mean, really. How else would he have gotten there?

Seems it was the Wyoming way.