Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Most Interesting Rectangle Survey

Dear Survey takers,

I have not succeeded in offering any good surveys lately, so here is a link to someone else's survey and with results collected from a whole lot of people. If you don't want to click to their results, I'll post the general results in the first comment.

The question is, which rectangle do you like best?

Survey: The one that most people choose is called the "Golden Rectangle."


Ertas, a Sacred Place Below Ephrathah

Dear Jacob,

"As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath." Genesis 48:7

Ephrathah. . . since you, Jacob, buried your well loved Rachel in this ground, it has been sacred. It was sacred to you because you lost the love of your life. Looking at it from my perspective, I'd say you lived a primitive life in which you treated women like property and you earned her with the sweat of your brow. I might be tempted to say you didn't really know love because you were a male chauvinist pig. But love is a funny thing and can even creep up on chauvinists in primitive cultures. So you loved her like you loved no other (even though there were others.) Of course the ground is sacred, like the ground where we work out all of our loves, like the homes where we live out those loves, and like the people with whom we stake out our paltry existences.

"I will not enter my house or get into my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Might One of Jacob. Lo, we heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar." Psalm 132:6

Ephrathah. . . it has been sacred since, here, David said he found a dwelling place for the LORD. David stayed up late over this. He wanted a home, a cozy place for God, and found it in Ephrathah. Of course it's sacred. Sacred and cozy.

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Micah 5:2

Ephrathah. . . With every "Away in the Manger," we are reminder that this is holy ground. The cattle are lowing about it. Emmanuel set his flag right here on the sacred stones of Ephrathah. It doesn't get any better than this.

So, it is the sacredness then that makes it right to rape and pillage a land? Is it because God doesn't think apricots are sacred? And God's house, isn't it big enough for Palestinians too? Was Jesus, precious lamb, not serious when he said "For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him."

"For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." Luke2:30-32

I'm afraid, brother Jacob, that the land is sacred no more. When humans embrace their own neighbors only with giant shovels and Caterpillars, it is death to the sacred. The place will be holy no more, for the light has gone out in Zion. The Lord will move his dwelling place to Ertas where he will sit with the sorrowful* and throw dust on his head.



*Note: the sorrowful include many Israeli people who join with the Palestinian owners of this land to protest the actions of the Israeli government and army.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Alberto Gonzales Gone and the Loss of a Symbol

Dear Alberto,

I for one, given the fact that I haven't studied the details of the case (Polly and the Mooch may silently scream if he wishes) am sorry that you are leaving visible high office. And I loved what the quote in the New York Times:

“Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than my father’s best days,” you said. “I have lived the American dream.” Your father, the Times says, was a "Mexican-American construction worker who raised eight children in a two-room home near Houston." And he didn't live to see all of this national hulabaloo, neither good nor bad.

Your Mom was there at the swearing in and my guess is that she has scolded you a bit over these recent public difficulties. You politicians just don't seem to be able to figure out what "Is" is, much less, "Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

Still, I'm sorry to see you walk away. The walk in was much happier I think.
I don't want to go on and on, but I wanted to say that I regret the loss of the symbol your presence brought to the offices of justice. My mind flits to the days of Bobby Kennedy when the brothers K were struggling within their own ethical selves to balance political pressure and a precious morality that set the stage for the Civil Rights movement. Without those days, or ones like them the United States could still be actively banning non-caucasians from high office. Now, you have been there. You have helped break barriers. Thank you for that.

The Times also quoted Senator John Sununu, (R-NH). “Our country needs a credible, effective attorney general who can work with Congress on critical issues ranging from immigration to investigating terrorism at home and abroad. Alberto Gonzales’s resignation will finally allow a new attorney general to take on this task.”
Who the heck does he think will understand issues of immigration better than you do? I fear that the politics of politics will block the new attorney general from effective action just as they have blocked you.

Sometimes I wonder whether politicians even see the obvious. Well, that's another topic.
I wish you well.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Convergence of Politics and Opera

Dear Richard Nixon,

It's a funny thing how presidencies turn out isn't it? Sometimes, no, usually, from one perspective or other they start out in a blaze of glory, and then they piddle out and it's over after four mostly inglorious years, not long enough to do a great deal of damage, or they don't piddle out fast enough and they run amok, to be remembered as fiascos. (Remember Carter, remember Clinton, and (shudder) think about the death throes of the current regime.)

Certainly your presidency ran amok. Yet, as I look back, I think there were some glorious things, things to be proud of. Possibly the top thing you did was a little thing indeed. You said these words, "The People's Republic of China," publicly. Funny how a few well placed words can create ripples that can change the world, can depetrify a situation. Then you let some kids play table tennis or ping pong as we always said in our basement. And then, (unprecedented) you announced that you would travel to Beijing. It was a media sensation. So, in 1972, off you went to drink tea and change the world with a little chit chat.

The Miller Center for Public Affairs says, "It was only a first step, but a decisive one, in the budding rapprochement between the two states."

Many things have come of this. Cheap flower baskets, leaded toys, another incredible part of the world accessible to tourism. (Cuba is next.) But I think the most musically notable derivative is the opera by John Adams entitled Nixon in China. It is fabulous in every way. The music, the libretto by Alice Goodman, the original production by Peter Sellars. . . it works buddy. Better than a presidential library, honestly, to immortalize a presidency.

Here's a link to another aria, thought by some to be the high point of the opera, but you may disagree, Dick. I like your aria, especially with the Spirit of '72 dropping down onto the stage like that!

I'll write more later. I'd like to ask some questions about that first run at the presidency that you took against JFK. I was in third grade, but remember it vividly!



Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Gospel According to Lemony Snicket

Dear Lemony Snicket,

You say, "The world is an awful, dangerous place and the sooner kids learn that, the better."

Oh dear. How true is this? The world is dangerous, without and within. Perhaps, if only the world were dangerous and awful beyond our own selves, then there would be one last safe place, a final safe house to which we could retreat and find our own internal noble selves, and respite. But, dear oh dear, however much we would like, we are not "noble enough" it seems.

Fortunately, as a child, I did not stand on a beach and receive the news that my home had been destroyed in a conflagration. (Used here the word conflagration means "house fire.") And I feel, sometimes, the worse for this, because I ended up naive. (See picture of Pollyanna here.) My education in some ways started way too late. Lemony, you are helping me come to some hard, cold, realizations! As your sister Kit warned at the beginning of the accounting of the 12th unfortunate event, "In every other place on Earth, nobility and integrity are vanishing quickly. If we're not careful, they'll vanish completely. Can you imagine," she asked, "a world in which wickedness and deception were running rampant?" Of course, the Baudelaire children, because of their wide experience in the wicked ways of the world, each nodded affirmatively (used here that means they answered "yes".)

But as I thought about your crusade to rid the world of the ignorance of evil that I had experienced as a child growing to curious adulthood, I was reminded of some preachers I had heard in the Baptist church that I haunted growing up. And I think I cannot fault them for my naivete, for they certainly gave strong and gloomy warnings. And more than a house conflagration, those traveling ministerial bards warned of an eternal burning lake designed for the devil and his angels, but wide enough to consume any number of wicked others.

As a child I did so want the same nobility that the Baudelaire children strive for. And, mind you, I did not wish for posthumous, eternal phlogiston. Phlogiston used in this case refers to rapid oxidation like that which takes place at a girl scout campfire only much bigger and lasting much longer. But I have discovered, like the Baudelaire bunch that the path to nobility is a windy one and peppered with. . . accidents. We become responsible for some of the very destructions we are trying to avoid or prevent. Sigh. And we wonder, if we, after all, are quite as dreadful and wicked as any. I can certainly chorus with Klaus Baudelaire, "I'm not sure we are noble." And hope with all of them that I am, we are, "noble enough." Perhaps that is all we can ask for in this world.

Cultural theorist, which is an expression that means someone who like to sit around and think about why people in groups do such and such a thing, Jean Baudrillard argued that in late Twentieth Century 'global' society the excess of signs and of meaning has caused a (quite paradoxical) effacement of reality. In this world neither liberal or Marxist utopias are any longer believed in. We live, he argued, not in a 'global village,' but rather in a world that is ever more easily petrified by even the smallest event. I don't suppose Baudrillard is related to the Baudelaire children, but he would probably agree that one unfortunate event is like a pebble dropped in a pool that causes ripples across the whole pond. Or as you so pertinently quote the famous unfathomable question from Native Son by Richard Wright, an American novelist of the realist school in The Penultimate Peril, "Who knows when some slight shock, disturbing the delicate balance between social order and thirsty aspiration, shall send the skyscrapers in our cities toppling?" And I suppose that whether the pebbly event has the power to petrify or to cause wholesale collapse really doesn't make much difference. The end is quite nasty either way.

Hm.m.m.m what was my point here? I think that I'm thinking that the gospel according to Lemony Snicket and that of some blustery evangelists is not very gospelesque when you consider that the meaning of the word gospel is good news, and that, oh dear, the idea that the world is a very dangerous place and after that the judgment, is quite bad news indeed.

Perhaps, we need a better gospel. And though, it's true, that we are very rarely noble enough to be saved from the fires of earth and hell, there does seem to be more to life, after all, than just unfortunate events.

With harrowing regards,


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The 20 Minute Corral

Dear Whoever is Reading This Hoping to Find Challenging Content on Literature or Politics, but Is Disappointed to Find Yet Another Tour of Uninteresting Personal Locations,

I am sorry, but I promise that within days, yea, within hours perhaps, I will post a fascinating blog of musings on the topic of the gospel as it is found within the adventures of the Baudelaire children, or perhaps a clear statement of what the United States should do to wrench itself from the quagmire that it has created in Iraq. (Yes, this is the answer you have been waiting for!)

But, for today, you get a quick tour of the 20 minute corral. . . a used set of 13 fence sections and a gate. Wow. How great is this? Great, I think.


Monday, August 20, 2007

On Vacation

Dear Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer,

This is our beach. (Note the sense of ownership, the assertion of squatter sovereignty after just one week.)

This is Cape May at it's photogenic best.
This is where. (Very far.)
We stay in a normal place, but this is across the street. But for Cape May, you can say, this is typical. (And beautiful.)

Plus, friends, weddings, family, swimming, a little reading but less than I wished, (Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison), and for better or worse, little to no computer time.

Thanks Kathy for the Kia keys!!!


Friday, August 10, 2007

Social Security: The Good That It Can Do

Dear Readers,

I said I wanted to post some thoughts about Social Security. And I do, but this is not that post. Instead, I have a guest blogger in. I had a guest in before, I think for Lent (Thank you Anne GG.)

This piece falls in the realm of a defense, I think, an "apologia" for Social Security. And it is a good one, because it is an insider view from someone who is now an outsider, so it is both passionate and balanced. It is also written by one of my true friends, at whose word I would go, vote, die, read, or change. (Or at least try to do the above.)

Big government is thought of too often, like Yeti, huge and monstrous. Perhaps it has some of the Bigfoot characteristics, but I believe it is more like a Wookiee, a powerful force with the ability to do great good.


PS At one point in the essay listen for my voice saying, "Aw, shucks."

Social Security

Where to begin…where to begin.

I guess I’ll start with a personal story.

Due to a number of unfortunate circumstances occurring when I was young and compounded by a certain level of neglect from a number of adults in my life, I suffered with a chronic depression since approximately age 10. I stayed in school, did not get involved with drugs or drink excessive amounts of alcohol, got good grades, went to college (with a lot of coaxing from a well-meaning friend, my dearest brd, who has been a tremendous blessing in my life), and grad school. When I turned 18 I began therapy and remained in therapy for the next 19 years. Despite the therapy, my depression worsened and I ended up in hospital at 25. I returned to work two days after I was discharged, but remained depressed and found myself in and out of the hospital several times over the next few years. After each hospitalization, I returned to work immediately, usually within two days. However, I eventually lost my job and, having been on my own for many years, could not pay my bills and student loans. My credit was ruined. I got another job, but lost that too after another hospitalization. (This was prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act.)

I remember being numb from depression and numb from the disbelief that this was what my life had become. You see, I was supposed to be a success. I was smart and got good grades. I had had no personality issues with co-workers, did not cause trouble, did my work. Until the hospitalizations, I was not an absent employee. I was usually one of those "assets" employers sometimes talk about.

I lost my apartment. I almost lost my car, but I had only a few payments left to make, and my father and a cousin helped with that. With the help of a hospital social worker, I applied for Social Security Disability. Due to the fact that I had been working since I was 16 and had had several well-paying jobs, I was able to collect a disability payment near the monthly limit. Believe me, this was no lottery win and it didn't cover all or even most of my expenses. It did keep heart and home together—loosely.

So I needed help. Who helped? Well, you now know the government helped. My church deacon group had a fund and they were able to give me some money on two occasions—approximately $2,000 each time. I did not attend a very large church, and that is what they could do. I suspect the deacons actually added to the fund so that they could give what they did. It was impossible for the church to pay me a monthly amount to help me keep things together. I imagine this is the case for many churches. In the event that any church was able to provide a monthly check, they most likely would not be able to do that for several people at once. Remember, I was a single person. I did not have a family to support.

During this time, my medical bills were covered under medical assistance. For awhile my prescriptions were too, but that changed and I was required to pay for my prescriptions (approximately $400-500/mo.) and pay back to the drug store the money medical assistance garnered from them after deciding they were not going to pay for the scripts after all. This amounted to about $4,000.

After I finished my Masters degree, I was able to begin adjunct teaching at a college and eventually got a job. However, the job required that I build up a caseload and this was also dependent on the employer's decisions as to who should get which case. So it took awhile. I did not make enough money to pay all my bills and continued to get the disability checks. When I had enough work to support myself I discontinued the disability checks, but the Social Security rules stated that once I made $500, I was no longer eligible for Social Security. I knew this while I was making more than $500, but less than a living wage and I also knew I would have to pay the money back to the government. I received a Social Security Disability check for approximately three years. At the end of it all, I owed them $11,000 and over the course of several years, I paid them back. A small inheritance allowed me to contribute to the deacon fund and pay off my defaulted debts.

Why am I going through all this, revealing what I consider to be personal shortcomings and embarrassments not to mention the probability of being stigmatized by nameless, faceless others whose prejudices I cannot defend against? Because the discussion we are all having is very ideational and conceptual. In reality, things are not so simple. (Note: This discussion was under the title True Democracy and Economic Wealth and continued under True Democracy and Economic Wealth Continued.

For instance, as I already stated, my church (and I suspect many churches) could not really provide enough money for one person let alone a family to live on for any length of time. My guess is that many churches could not really help too many people at once. I believe many churches already feel they are stretched beyond their means when it comes to helping people, especially those needing cash; and this at a time when the government does provide some services although they are severely restricted and limited!

What about the people, many of them Christians, who were in my life and aware of what was happening with me? They did what they could. They visited me. I lived with a few people for awhile. They did not offer to pay my bills or give me money. And as far as I can recall, no one asked if I had food or was hungry (I was not eligible for much at food cupboards because I was single). I knew no one at that time, who felt they had any extra cash to lend me. One person did provide some cash from time to time.

My father, who had little money, would play the daily numbers from time to time and save up his $10, $50, $60 maybe occasionally $100 winnings to send them to me. Where was the rest of my family? With the exception of one cousin who really had not known me very well and eventually took me in, they were MIA.

I know for a fact that some people, including family members, did not do more because they were either afraid they would end up supporting me or taking care of me indefinitely or felt I was not "sick" or had no reason to be on disability.

So, I used a government entitlement and the welfare system. Believe me, this was a most humbling and miserable experience. I was often regarded with suspicion; subtle insinuations that I should "work like everyone else" were common. Then there is "the look" reserved for those receiving government benefits that surely makes clear that you are little more than ungrateful, lazy scum living off of the hard work of others.

But I am grateful. I am grateful that I was able to take advantage of the government programs. I am grateful for the kindnesses (and no doubt sacrifices!) of those who helped. But in situations like mine and many, many others unlike mine and as dire if not more so, what is needed exceeds what any individual, group or church can do, especially when we move beyond the individual experience.

I paid into Social Security for 10 years prior to collecting disability, collected for three years and have been paying into the system since (about 10 years). I will continue to pay into that system as well as pay all my other taxes at whatever rate based on an above-the-median-income. I will do it gladly. I will do it because I believe social safety networks (government included) offer the possibility that someone like me can get it together, get back on their feet, and become a contributing member of society once again. I will do it regardless of the graft and dishonesty in the system and despite the reality that some people will game the system. I will do it because to those who have much, much will be required. I will do it because it is not for me to decide who deserves help based on race, creed or behavior. I will do it because I was there. I will do it because there but for the grace of God, go I…(again).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Memory of Hiroshima by Mitsuyoshi Toge

Dear Mitsuyoshi Toge*,

You are gone now. Gone at 36, yet this week we have to think of you and those like you whose lives were cut short that day in August of 1945 when a flash of atomic light signaled death not life and a new generation of ways to war and hate.

Thank you for raising from the dead, your poetic voice and insight, so that we will be told once more, not to forget.


'How Could I Ever Forget That Flash'

How could I ever forget that flash of light!
In a moment, thirty thousand people ceased to be,
The cries of fifty thousand killed
At the bottom of crushing darkness;

Through yellow smoke whirling into light,
Buildings split, bridges collapsed,
Crowded trams burnt as they rolled about
Hiroshima, all full of boundless heaps of embers.
Soon after, skin dangling like rags;
With hands on breasts;
Treading upon the broken brains;
Wearing shreds of burn cloth round their loins;
There came numberless lines of the naked,
all crying.
Bodies on the parade ground, scattered like
jumbled stone images of Jizo;
Crowds in piles by the river banks,
loaded upon rafts fastened to the shore,
Turned by and by into corpses
under the scorching sun;
in the midst of flame
tossing against the evening sky,
Round about the street where mother and
brother were trapped alive under the fallen house
The fire-flood shifted on.
On beds of filth along the Armory floor,
Heaps, and God knew who they were?
Heaps of schoolgirls lying in refuse
Pot-bellied, one-eyed, with half their skin peeled
off bald.
The sun shone, and nothing moved
But the buzzing flies in the metal basins
Reeking with stagnant ordure.
How can I forget that stillness
Prevailing over the city of three hundred thousands?
Amidst that calm,
How can I forget the entreaties
Of departed wife and child
Through their orbs of eyes,
Cutting through our minds and souls?

*Mitsuyoshi Toge, born in Hiroshima in 1917, was a Catholic and a poet. He was in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city on August 6, 1945, when he was 24 years old. Toge died at age 36. His firsthand experience of the bomb, his passion for peace, and his realistic insight into the event made him a leading poet in Hiroshima. This poem is from Hiroshima-Nagasaki: A Pictorial Record of the Atomic Destruction (1978).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

After 30 Years a New Kitchen Table

Dear Mom,

Well here it is after 30 years eating on that kitchen table that Steve's stepmom gave us, we have purchased our own table set.

In spite of all the positives to the contrary, raising 4 children does have a down side, one being that there never seemed to be extra money for non-essentials like kitchen tables when the ugly one we had was still standing and could be covered with a table cloth.

Do you know anyone who needs an ugly old table and chairs?



P.S. Yes the audio on this video was also dumb. No more non-scripted audio, I promise.

New Kitchen Sink and Back Splash or Why I am NOT a Video Producer

Dear Everyone, and Mom,

One more house tour video after this one and I'll be done with that for now, although I would like to post a couple pictures of my new, 20 minute corral. Yes, I now own a corral for my horses so I can actually bring them to my house for visits. Crazy but true. I call it a 20 minute corral because that is how long it took to put it up--truck to completed corral. How slick is that? We bought it used from a friend who was getting rid of her horses.

But this piece is a kitchen tour. I'm sorry about the dumb audio.

What I meant to say about the sink is that the design flaw was such that if you splashed or the spigot leaked at all, the water tended to collect behind the sink on the counter rather than being caught by the sink and redirected to the bowl. That's all.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Work in Progress--A New Room

Dear Mom,

Here is the vision. Once we get this done we either get a pool table or Stevie moves back in with us. Which do you think is more realistic?

Stevie and Steve worked together laying the tile. It is a good sized room with wonderful closets.



Our New Library

Dear Mom,

This little room is my pride and joy. Steve did a wonderful job. He took it from oversized closet junk room/electrical panel room to library/office. It is, I think, a great little nook.

What shall I read today? If you listen to the video, you'll saw, "She better start with a basic training manual on how to tell your left from your right." AnneGG would tell us that you need to lift your hands, palms away from you and look for an "L."
That one would be left.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Garden Tour

Dear Mother,

This is the first in a series of House Tour segments. It ain't Martha Stewart, but we get by.

The first is a video look at our garden and the new front door. The garden actually is getting a little dry and old, but it still cheers me every time I walk up the sidewalk. I pick a little piece of lavender and smell it each morning as I walk off to work.

I'm sure your plants are looking good too.

Next, I'll tour you through the new library.



Thursday, August 02, 2007

Horses: Down on the Farm

Dear Gina,

Here are some pix of horses I think you would like.

Nebuchadnezzar (White), Solomon (Black), Chief (Paint), Dakota (Chestnut), Veeger (Brown and Short), Percy (Brown and Tall)

That's life, down on the farm.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sex and the Married Woman

Dear TierneyLab of the NY Times,

A while back I promised my blog readers (not a large group, mind you, but a promise is a promise) a hard-hitting blog on sex.
Yes S-e-x, sex.

Well, when I was in my first post-high school job at Pittsburgh Plate Glass in Tipton, PA., the office staff, all underpaid women, at least one of whom was so intelligent she should have been running the plant instead of bringing the CEO coffee when he required it (but that is another topic and that stellar woman finally left that job and got a degree in library sciences and ran a library in Louisiana for years before moving to Arkansas where she still lives and thinks her grandson is the cat's meow.) But I was young then and had no thoughts of grandchildren but had plenty of thoughts of men and sex. Nonetheless, I kept those thoughts pretty much to myself and lived the other part of me, fairly conservatively, considering that it was 1970. My naivete showed, I suppose, for the underpaid, non-unionized women dubbed me Pollyanna.

I did not have sex in 1970. But the study on reasons people have sex that you blogged about on Tierney Lab became my muse for this post. The study had a flawed sample. (Is that n or N?) Not to blame you for the makeup of the study sample, but the researchers, Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss from the University of Texas could have done a bit better than focusing their sex research on college kids, ("a fairly homogenous sample of students at the University of Texas"). Fairly homogenous? These people all wear the same brand jeans for heavens sake! I like them, I love them, but many of them are still gleaning their opinions from the backs of cereal boxes and whatever is the 180 degree opposite of their parents' views. And, they believe, as perhaps Meston and Buss believe, that they are inventing sex! And for them, they are. We all invent our sex lives because it is seemingly so hard for adults to talk to children about sex.

So I am talking.

Reading the study, I felt excluded. But why should that be? I am experienced. I have been having good, regular sex several times a week for over 30 years. Why aren't Meston and Buss asking me instead of some 18-year-old hot off initial forays into sexdom. Here's why. I have only had sex with one man in my life. Refer to my poem of last year. So, I'm a wet blanket to the researchers, but I do think they could glean a thing or two from those of us who have mixed fidelity and sex. Now, I am not going to say that I can't learn from the under 25 group, for they do have experience that I do not. However, I have experience that they do not also.

Reason 10 for having sex. I agree, it is pleasurable to be close to someone physically and reach orgasm.

Reason 9. Sex goes hand in hand with love. It is a final expression of the desire for intimacy that love initiates. There are multiple kinds of love. Not all lead to the desire for sexual fulfillment. However, the kind of love that one bases a marriage upon does usually seek intimate fulfillment. Sex is a way of going in the direction of intimacy.

Reason 8. Sometimes desire strays from marriage commitment. Of course a person committed to fidelity occasionally wants something else. Duh! Sex can be a way of refocusing on the partner to whom you have made a commitment. It is a reminder that love is better than lust.

Reason 7. Sex is a way of communicating respect. It can be saying, "when you want me, I want you, but if you aren't ready for this now, I will wait for you. You are important to me and your feelings, whether they are active now, or passive now are important to me and primary to me, even over my own passions."

Reason 6. Sex can be a way of grieving together, a way of facing hardship together. I remember the days when our daughter was fighting cancer. We felt so helpless, so battered emotionally. We retreated to each other and found in sex a respite of sorts. Perhaps not the best sex, but a unifying sex.

Reason 5. Sex can be a way of expressing mutual joy. Easier than reason 6. A new house, a new job, a move, a new baby, an intellectual discovery, whatever, can trigger a joining together and an agreement that something is good.

Reason 4. Sex is absurd. There is a certain absurdity in life that brings one to the edge of despair and laughter. Sex can certainly be an active symbol of that absurdity. Two people wrapping around each other, joining intimate, sensitive body parts, breathing hard, making weird noises. It is an acknowledgement of the absurdity of life, but at the same time it is an existential leap into love and the arms of another.

Reason 3. Sex says I'm betting you. I'm putting all my chips into your pile. Whatever you do, I'm behind you, I'm with you, I'm protecting you, I'm part of you. And it is saying, "Thank you for betting on me."

Reason 2. Almalif. We have this little expression. It probably comes from some old movie we saw one time. You say it very quickly. All my life. Allmylife. Almalif. Sex is a joyful, intimate, restatement of the commitment that I made in 1975 on October, 3rd or 4th or was it the 5th. (I never can remember the date.) I say to my partner, "this is for keeps. I love you and I will never let you go. Almalif."

Reason 1. To give my partner pleasure. Apart from receiving pleasure from the sex act, another goal is giving pleasure. Sex is communal and communion and works best when the focus is on the other whose focus is on you.

So there are ten new reasons for Meston and Buss. Some of these are repeats from their list, with a twist. But some of these, my most important, tried, experienced reasons, seemed missing from that list. So many of the items on your list seemed to really miss the point or, no (that sounded condescending), they describe only one level of what is so important to us as humans because it is not a simple, superficial thing.

I guess I should admit that I still am a Pollyanna and naive. But perhaps, I'm working on my own experiment. What is it like to live a whole life with one man in committed fidelity? I guess it's more of a qualitative experiment. The University of Texas survey is quantitative, so they can't really be compared I suppose. I love the experiment that Annie Dillard describes in Teaching a Stone to Talk. It describes a life-long commitment of sorts. The individual she describes is a bit nuts. The person spends time everyday encouraging a stone to speak. How do we know for sure that a stone can't talk, if we don't spend the time training it properly?

So, maybe I'm nuts too. But my experiment has been run before, and successfully, I think. Meanwhile, as I run my test, I am very glad to say that in my preliminary results, I have found love, I have found intimacy, and by george, I have found really good sex.


Why Humans Have Sex: 237 Reasons