Author Archives: MLE

A Simple Request

A simple request: I ask that we remember—especially when war is in the air, and even more when its scent is disguised as something else—that most people in the world want the same basic things, experience the same basic emotions, have the same basic drives. People want security, acceptance, food, shelter, dignity, means by which to express themselves, and a meaningful existence. It is so perilously easy to villainize and even dehumanize the “other,” but they are so much like us. The “other” is my family.

A second request: That you pass these sentiments on, in your own words if you like, if you agree with them. A wave, or even a handful, of people asking others to remember sanity, justice, and humanity cannot be a bad thing.


MLE’s Breakdown of The Avengers Characters

Okay, here it is:

Thor–Seems like he should be more useful. But he’s pretty and ripped, so he gets a pass. But really, step up your game or you’re out.

Banner/Hulk–While I really liked Edward Norton’s Hulk and was hoping he’d reprise his role, Mark Ruffalo was superb. How he carried himself, talked, everything was spot on. I didn’t like how the movie transitions from rage-blind Hulk on the airship to a Hulk that can be reasoned with, follow directions, and basically be in way more control, without out ever explaining this change. Weird.

Romanov/Black Widow–While still over-sexualized (and come on, the lone woman is the spy and the one who manipulates to get what she wants?), still she does have some cool moves, but she gets pistols. Big deal. The cops have guns. But what do you expect? As a character, I like her and she’s better than Super Girl or Cat Woman, or whatever that crazy Carmen Electra one was. There could have been more character development with her, but even more so with…

Hawkeye–We saw him just a little bit in Thor. There doesn’t really seem to be much reason for his existence. His specialized quiver and arrows are cool, but there is really no reason for people to connect with his story because we have no idea what it is. He’s just kind of there. And that’s sad.

Stark/Iron Man–I like him as a character. I think he’d be exasperating and unpleasant in real life.

Captain America–He’s all the good stuff we like to associate with the 1940s. And that’s completely endearing.

 Nick Fury–Samuel L. Jackson is the balls. Done. He makes this movie cool.


Agent Coulson–Yes, here it is. I think Agent Coulson is my favorite character. I got through the rest of the movie telling myself maybe Director Fury was just saying they’d called his death, or maybe it was a clone. They can’t kill Phil! What?! *crestfallen*

Loki–Killed Phil, so, we’ll just leave it at that.

Who’s my favorite Avenger? Hulk, followed by Captain America, then Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, then Hawkeye.  .  . I think.

(Want to laugh heartily? Head over to The Editing Room. They’ve given The Avengers script their treatment.)


I floss my teeth in front of a mirror. I lean in close and pluck unwanted hairs. I check my teeth, hair, etc. for anything out of place, especially before an interview or something else important. I stand in front of a mirror and take stock of my body–how it has changed from sun exposure, weight fluctuations, age, posture.
I wonder at how different my body and skin look in different lighting. How different I look wearing certain clothing or none at all.

As a girl, I used to brush my silky, long, brown hair; watching in the mirror as it reflected glints of oranges and reds. Other times, I labored at a mirror, dislodging blackheads and zits, and wishing I was pretty, desirable. At a similar age, I stood in front of a mirror and looked at myself, several pairs of socks stuffed in my shirt, as I tried to imagine what I might look like as a woman.

I remember in more recent years, crying and realizing I didn’t really know what I looked like while crying and (experiencing the emotions of the hour); I knew what it felt like, but not how it looked. So, I went in a bathroom and looked at myself. It was intriguing. I was hurting and angry, and yet literally seeing a part of myself I’d never seen before, but one which others had.

I take a deep breath and exhale. I am going to present myself to the world, my slice of the world in which I bounce around, dressed like this, hair styled this way (often not at all), sans make-up, standing this way. Yes. That’ll do.

Buildings, cars, sunglasses, and other objects that reflect on one side, but can been seen through on the other are interesting. The varied reasons for the existence of these like items are interesting.

The world without mirrors (or lots of reflective surfaces). If we could only check ourselves out in the occasional, and often distorted, water surface, what would be different? Would we care as much about how we look? Would we rely more on others to help us look however is deemed appropriate in our group, relying on a sort of group grooming?
How different our perception of self would be.

Observations on Euthanasia: Humans and Non-humans

Interesting how ending someone’s life for medical reasons is viewed so differently depending on if they are human or non-human.

When they’re human, it’s “assisted suicide” and legal in only a handful of places (unless it is involuntary, which isn’t legal anywhere). Even when the one dying has made the choice to die, it’s taboo. Sometimes people say things like, “You’re playing God. Maybe they should pray more, then let God decide when it’s their time to die.”

When they’re non-human, it’s “putting them to sleep” and it’s legal everywhere. The one dying has no choice in it. It is seen as compassionate to end their suffering, and the humans involved are not viewed negatively or ridiculed, but comforted in their grieving or, for the vets, it’s just part of their job.

Sometimes the decision for death is partly informed by how much money proper care would cost. Sometimes that is the main reason for euthanizing an animal. Imagine if we decided whether or not a human should live based on how much it would cost to treat them and keep them alive.

Since when does Prada sell fanny packs?

During our layover at Toronto Pearson International Airport last weekend, I was once again reminded of how utterly unflattering fanny packs are on most people, especially certain people, and they’re the people that, 9 times out of 10, are the ones that wear them. I know other people wear them (right?), but I wasn’t shocked as time after time, I spied a fat, 40ish-65ish woman in an unflattering t-shirt walking around with this extra protrusion hanging off their front; the strap lost somewhere in the folds of…anyway, seeing this over and over again was just depressing and made me, as an obese woman with a little thought for personal style, a tad angry at them for perpetuating the stereotype. I left those thoughts behind as we boarded the plane for our 11 hour flight. Or so I thought.

The fanny pack haunted me as I took a seat in 12 F. The cussbag sitting on the other side of Rick during the flight was all spiffed out in his jet setter best, including his PRADA FANNY PACK. I thought to myself, “what manner of fanny packery is this?” a) Why does Prada even make this product, and b) Why on earth would anyone pay  upwards of $350 (retail $445) to wear something that looks as silly as a $5 one from Big Lots? Srsly. (I’m not just calling him a cussbag because he dressed like a git. He acted like one, too. Too bad he didn’t pack any civility in his fanny Prada.)

I didn’t sleep well on that flight. I usually sleep well on planes. I blame the Prada fanny pack.

Interestingly, on Prada’s website it’s called a belt bag. Ok, keep telling yourselves that. On all the discount sites I found, it’s called a “Prada fanny pack.”

Life Update: Israel Bound

Today marks two months until we travel to Jaffa, Israel to stay at the Maine Friendship House for five months. If you’re going to be in the Tel-Aviv area during that time, look us up and pop over for tea! Seriously, we like visitors. While there, you can explore the 19th-Century New England-style home built by a small group of Christian zionist settlers who sailed from Jonesport, ME to Jaffa, Israel in the 1860s.

More details to come, and of course, we’ll blog lots about our experiences there.

Pesky Questions: More on Prayer

When someone utters something about praying hard, there are several possible responses. One is, “praying hard, or hardly praying?” A follow up of “zing!” is optional. Hardy har har.

I recently said this (sans the zing) half under my breath to Ricktopher in response to yet another comment about praying hard. He humors me. I’m less sure about how well it was received by others. Maybe they didn’t hear it.

Truth is, I’ve been swimming with all these comments and the questions they spawn and the dad joke humor was the best I could muster at that point.

My (MLE’s) extended family has been gearing up for my grandma’s heart valve replacement in a few days. Admonitions and supplications to “pray hard” have risen from various corners. I appreciate that others in my family (my grandma included) find comfort in knowing that there are lots of people praying hard for her. (This, of course, was followed up with an acknowledgement that it’s still up to God, which I always find interesting–pray, pray, pray, pray, but it’s still up to God.) I want to be a part of this web of comfort and support. But I’ve got questions.

I’m not really sure what praying really hard means. I thought I knew, but now I wonder. Is it the amount of time spent praying? The sincerity of the prayer? Does thinking about that person or situation or being thankful in general count?

At what point does a prayer become mighty or the label “praying hard” become appropriate for one’s efforts? This all seems a little too subjective to me.

Does my inaction of not praying a prayer of supplication actually negatively effect an outcome? I’ve heard this described by some as blood on our hands. That’s a little much for me, but I find it interesting. (I wish people who believe that had as strong a conviction that our inactions often make us culpable in other ways, for example in perpetuating social injustices.)

I’ve felt guilty at times. Like when I’ve said I’d pray for someone, then forgotten. To avoid this, I’ve sometimes said a quickie prayer right away, so that I don’t forget, and don’t have to try to remember it later. Though sincere (of course I want ______’s ______ to get better), these probably aren’t what most of the pray harders have in mind.

And here’s a question for those who favor the hard prayer line: It seems like praying hard, mighty prayer, etc. is almost exclusively reserved for prayers of supplication. Why is this? How would one’s prayer life be different if one injected the same level of zeal and effort in praying hard (and admonishing others to do so) into other kinds of prayer, like thanksgiving?

If it is true that prayers really can alter an outcome, can do more than send good vibes, then it seems to me we are horribly selfish and narrow-hearted in our choices about what and for whom we pray. What if everyone with even the smallest inclination to pray did so every day and prayed for world peace? Every day (good thoughts and vibes welcomed too, of course). If prayers really do change things, then why is it that when time is made during church services to pray for the afflicted, it’s almost always so and so’s physical ailment? Where are our prayers for relationships? For the poor and the starving? For those with no hope? Prayers of contrition acknowledging our inaction to seek justice and pursue peace?

I used to think I was quite good at praying. Maybe had a gift for it. People sometimes said things indicating as much. I was comfortable in the knowledge that I “knew how to pray.” Now I’m not so sure. Pesky, pesky questions.