Thursday, January 31, 2008


I was reading the Scene last night and found a full page ad saying that Van Morrison will be at the Ryman Auditorium on March 13 and tickets go on sale Saturday morning. Hammy got on-line and discovered the pre-sale is this morning with tickets costing $200 each. As much as I'd LOVE to see Van again, and as much as it pains me, I can't justify $450+ for a show.

We saw Van on my birthday 2 years ago. It was his first Ryman show and the first he'd ever played in Nashville. It was wonderful. First of all, the Ryman is the best place to see music: The acoustics are great, it's small and intimate, there's not a bad seat in the house (except behind the support posts) and it's the "mother church" of country music-everybody who's ever been anybody in country music has played there. There's a sense of reverance for the history that most artists have for the place.
I can't say whether Van felt that way about playing there; if he did, he didn't show it. He doesn't show much of anything, when he performs. His performances are absolutely timed and perfectly choreographed; each note and gesture is rehersed. Oddly, rather than making his music mechanical or stiff, it seems to allow all the soul inside to be secure enough to flow. We saw him at Memphis in May almost 13 years ago (a terrible time. It was hot and crowed and Zed was an infant and Declan was 4 year old. We only stayed for the first few songs). The next day, we happened to catch him on Leno or Letterman or one of those shows. Whatever song he did was movement-for-movement exactly the same as the night before. But it didn't seem "mailed in" the way I would expect. His music transcends a moment or a venue or a particular performance. It's like he inhabits the music and can pull us into being there with him.
Ok, I'm sounding goofy about this. I'm disappointed that I won't be seeing him again. But I've seen him once at the Ryman and it's enough to carry with me. Spending almost $500 to see him again seems greedy, especially when we're working so hard to pay off dental bills and house improvement loans and need to have our roof repaired.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I do a lot more thinking about God and my relationship with God than I do actually living in God. Van Morrison's song (which I've written about before):

When will I ever learn,
To live in God.
When will I ever learn?
God gives me everything I need, and more.
When will I ever learn?

speaks to my condition but I phrase the question more as "how will I ever learn to live in God" than "when".

I've written about how I understand sin to be anything that I allow to come between me and God. Over the last few days what I have come to see that I am my biggest obstacle to Truth. No, duh. But what I mean is that I'm totally in love with myself, with my uniqueness and individuality. I'm so quirky and funny and curious and interesting. I plan things, learn, organize; I lead people. I'm so wonderful. Yeah, God made me, and thanks, God, but now, watch me go! I worship at the alter of my own self.

I am so enthralled with me that I have been unable and, if I am honest, unwilling to let go of myself to let God be the true center of my life; my center and my purpose. I am so clearly, so well defined. Each facet of my me-ness has been nurtured and tended to with much affection.

God is real to be but also a vaguely defined concept. I mean, I have felt God in me. I feel God in me, moving in my life. God is an energy, a power; peace. God moves through me. But what is God?

I'm not asking this rhetorically. How can I learn to place God in front of me in my life when I don't know or understand? How can I let Spirit "break" me open when I'm so busy with my good intentions?

I wrote this on Susanne Kromberg's blog, yesterday. I don't even know if I spoke to what she was asking but this is what came out:
"Early Quakerism (Religious Society of Friends of Truth) was more socially diverse and was full of miracles. From what I've read and learned, it seems to me that early Friends experienced an immediacy with Spirit, a Divine Fire, that seems to have cooled to a comfortably warm ember for us. We expect miracles, but only modest, quiet ones, not the big, messy, loud kind. They also suffered under tremendous persecution while many of us rest on the laurels of our history, not putting ourselves on any kind of line. There’s not much strong emotion in our Meetings for Worship, no danger. Our Spirit given messages are subtle (sometimes prefaced with, “I heard an article on NPR…”). How can new folks know God is moving among us when our messages are given so politely? A newcomer, one completely unfamiliar with the Quaker practice of waiting, may not be able to overcome their initial discomfort with the strangeness of our method of worship to feel the WORSHIP or the still/movement of Spirit."

Is this what I'm needing? Danger in Meeting? I think, yes, if by danger I mean Spirit shaking me out of my sense of complacency and comfort. I want to open myself to God's will for me. I hide behind my own self; my day-to-day life based on my will and my desires. I want to learn to be trustworthy for God, to be faithful, to mind the Light, to submit. I feel the need to be challenged, either directly by God, or through my spiritual community.

But am I ready to fear God? Am I prepared to deny my own self, to "live in the Cross"? Am I truly prepared to let God live through me, to use me and all my quirks and gifts for God? I want to turn myself over to God but I still don't know how. I mean, I want to, but spend most of my time forgetting. For me, my spiritual awareness seems to be two-steps-forward, one-and-a-half steps back. I say I want for God to change me, to "call" me so I can be baptized in Spirit. I think I do. But am I really ready to give myself over? I have to trust that God will call me when I am ready. My work now is to, perhaps, think less and listen more. I need to climb down off my alter. I need to learn to appreciate my gifts for what they are: Gifts from God, not of my own design, to be used humbly in the service of God. Oh, boy. That's the crux here: humility before God.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Putting along

Yesterday, I ran errands on my scooter for the first time. I rode to Target to purchase new stockings and toothpaste and wound up with those and tea, a new watch, and some frozen meatless bbq stuff (the wonders of everything under one roof). I was going to proceed from there to Caroline's but, although the temp was supposed to be in the mid fifties, it was overcast and windy, so I called her to let her know that I will pick up the article another time (she emailed me later to say that the article does not really apply, anyway). The Charlotte Ave. Goodwill was on my way so I stopped and found a new black sweater for me to wear while working (it will fit nicely under my riding jacket) and a hoodie for Zed. I'd brought my messenger bag with me, so stuffed all my purchases in it and rode on. Next I stopped at my neighborhood Kroger for dinner fixins. But this time, the under the seat storage was full, my bag was full and I tried to put things in the "glove box" which is aptly named: It's possible that a pair of gloves will fit it, but only that; actually, I fit 2 pears and an orange in it.

I think running errands will be much easier when I get my topcase mounted so I don't have to juggle everything.

What I'm finding is that it takes a lot longer to ride the scooter than to drive a car. I don't take the interstates or Briley Parkway so I'm having to go roundabout ways to get places via secondary streets. Putting on riding gear, ski mask, helmet, coat, purse/bag, ski mittens, not to mention finding a place to park and lock, takes more time than shutting a door and fastening a seat belt. But it's a lot quicker on the scooter than the bus, and a whole lot more fun!

The reactions I get from people are funny. Almost invariably, guys in sports cars pull up next to me, check me out and then have to speed away, as if a woman on a two-wheel motorized vehicle is somehow a threat to their masculinity. Old men are amused. Old women look shocked. Young women look intrigued. Kids look impressed. My little People is an eye catcher.

I rode in heavier traffic on Charlotte and White Bridge with nary a second thought. No problems at all. I'm beginning to feel quite comfortable but I do look forward to many things becoming second nature to me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thank you, Sharon

I just got back from Meeting. Second hour was lead by a women who recently began occasionally attending when she is in town visiting her daughter. She spoke about the overt and systematic racism that she has experienced in a Quaker Yearly Meeting. Her story is painful and dumbfounding, especially within the context of a Friends Meeting. She is hurt and angry and I perceived her as coming across, at first, as rather aggressive. Once she began talking and I began to hear her story, I began to understand and empathise.

Up until not too long ago, I didn't really understand how my life was affected by racism until someone I met in an on-line forum likened it to sexism. Lightbulb! Of course. I see sexism all the time. Now that I am aware and see racism in many, many things that are "normal" in our society.

One way I can understand this is through my experience of having studied the history of the medicalization of childbirth. Up until very recently (and even still in some drug trials), the male body was the norm for physical health which meant that the female body was pathological in that it differed from the norm. Childbirth, which never happens to men, was seen as an inherent emergency. Actually, any part of a woman's reproductive system was pathological because it deviated from the norm of the male body. So, male=normal and female=abnormal.

As it is in our society in regards to race. White=normal and black/brown/tan=abnormal. The white experience is taken for granted as being the norm. White is a race but when we talk about "race issues" we're never talking about our own problems, biases, or viewpoint, we're always talking about the pathological "other". We never look at how we are able to take for granted that we are a part of the dominant culture because we simply do not see that we are, in the same way that we don't often think about air as we breath.

I'm very sorry that this Friend had the experience that she did with her Yearly Meeting. I'm sorry, too, for those who have been so wrong in that YM. I appreciate that she was able to share her experience with us. I think what she said has opened us to begin discussing how we may be complicit in the racism in our lives even by unquestioningly accepting the benefits of being white in our society.

Friday, January 25, 2008

There is a Season...

It's funny how I can sit down to write about one thing and then be lead to go somewhere else. Yesterday's post is an example. I was sitting down to write about energy levels and cycles but wound up writing about "koyaanisqatsi", life out of balance.

I don't think my energy level is changed by sunlight or weather. I love gloomy, rainy days as much as bright sunny days. I think my body connection is to my ancestral roots in Ireland because getting wet, being in rain or snow don't bother me a bit. Maybe I was a duck in a past life.

I have several friends who are affected by "seasonal affectiveness disorder". During the short sun days of winter, they don't have much energy and seem to feel really depressed and unhappy with missing out on their normal activities.

My thinking is this: Maybe every day/week/month/season is not supposed to be like every other one. We live in a climate controlled culture. Many people go from their box=house to their box=car to their box=work/store/mall(/whatever). People seem to think that every day should be as productive as every other day; that what they do in May is the same as what they should be doing in January. But maybe, we're not supposed to live that way. Maybe, the dormancy of winter is for us, too, as well as nature; I mean, we are a part of nature, n'est ce pas? Think about the fact that it's only been since the advent of common people owning motorcars that we have believed ourselves to be above the dictates of weather. Throughout all of history, people would hunker down around the fire in cold, wintery weather, going out only for the most important or festive occasions. Only in the past 50 years or so, have we had the ability to travel with rapid enough speed in an enclosed (usually heated) box to get from point A to point B without being much impacted by temperature and moisture. But our bodies are still built for the past howevermany bijillion years of living in and with weather.

So I say: Embrace winter! Snuggle down. Make stew. Play board games. Read books. Write letters. Feel grateful for modern heating systems. Honor the season and nature. Find the rhythm in this day and time of year and learn to enjoy it's small blessings. Life doesn't always have to be busy and "productive". As nature intended, sometimes a time to pull inward and hibernate is the most regenerative thing one can do.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Quarter of the Time

It's January and I'm feeling a fresh burst of energy. I don't think the symbolism of it being a new year has anything to do with it. I think my energy levels cycle and I happen to be in a high energy phase.

My brother suffers from bipolar disorder and my mother suffers from serious depression (hers is currently being effectively treated through medication). Sometimes the idea of cycles of mood and energy frightens me. I know I'm not depressive; if anything, I'm unipolar on the manic end of the scale. My energy levels tend to run high and, although I'm grumpy and cross with my family often, I'm of a fairly cheerful disposition, in general.

Which leads me to thinking about monthly cycles. One week out of every month I dream of living alone. All my fantasies, all my daydreams are about having my own little apartment in which I don't have to deal with other people, particularly the men I currently live with. That sounds awful, I know. I love my family. I treasure them. Truly, I do. But one week out of every month I just can't stand the noise and chaos and smell and mess of living in this home I created. One week out of each month I just want to live in quiet contemplation, listening to the music of my choosing or being in silence, reading or doing handiwork.

When I was a teenager, I was really crazy that one week each month. I had a wonderful boyfriend, Steve. He was mature, kind, thoughtful, hardworking and he loved me deeply. Most of the time, things were good between us, but that one week out of each month I would become a psycho bitch. I'd been raised in a fundamentalist household and had been taught that things were black or white, right or wrong. During that week, all the conflict over the choices I made that differed from what I'd been taught to believe would come out and I would become controlling and irrational and repentant.

Steve was a naturally "good guy". His parents were divorced, his dad an alcoholic, his mom was very unmotivated with no aspirations to better her life. Steve was not "of" his family, although he worked hard to help support his mom and siblings financially and by being the man of the family. He played drums (the first of my lifelong relationships with drummers) and liked rock and roll music. Occasionally, he would drink a beer. We had a mature, fantastic sexual relationship. And one week out of each month, all the craziness of the rift between who I was supposed to be (a pure, Godly young woman) would come into conflict with how I perceived myself (a sinner. But one who enjoyed her sin waaaay to much to give it up) and I would flip out and preach and rant about how we had to stop having sex and go to church and repent.

After a year and a half, Steve broke up with me. He broke my heart; I'd really felt emotionally wed to him. Looking back, I don't blame him. I placed the brunt of my inner chaos on him. If we'd stayed together, I would have remained chained to that dichotomy of being one thing but having to act like another. I would have been so wrapped up in rules about what's right that who knows if I would ever have been able to hear what was true in me. By breaking up with me, he freed me to discover who I needed to be.

I understand now, that I was crazy with Steve because I was living out of harmony. I had never had the opportunity to gain perspective about what I believed was right and wrong, had simply internalized the values of my church and my parents, believing they spoke for God.

I wonder what I can do now to create more harmony in my life so that the one week each month is not so anomalous to the rest of my life? I think more time alone is a start. Ah, but how do I go about getting that in a 1500 square foot house containing 5 people? Maybe I could plan a day or two each month at a retreat center. Easier said than done in a busy family and with a sometimes full-time job. I think I will begin to hold this in the Light to see what love, for myself and my family, will do.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Barak Obama

I'm reading the memoir of Barak Obama, "Dreams From My Father". It's pretty compelling reading. I haven't done a terrible amount of research about his voting record or the plans he is laying out for the future direction of this country. Based on the website,, I know that he is not the candidate who best represents my deepest concerns (Mike Gravel is). I have to say, though, that the idea of having a president who's had the life experiences that Barak has had fills me with excitement. If I can believe what he wrote in his memoir, he is a truth-seeking man who is willing to listen to his Inner Guide for answers. He does not seem to be afraid to confront the shadows that he finds within. He is troubled by his own arrogance and tries to move beyond himself to the greater good, it seems. He examines his own racist tendencies and his own biases. Throughout his life, he has been an outsider learning to adapt. He seems to know not to make too many assumptions about people or situations. He seems, in many ways, the exact opposite of our current president who, to me, exemplifies the "ugly American".

I know that Hillary has had her own challenges. I would imagine that, in some ways, her experiences and my own are more similar than those of Barak and myself. I know she gets called a bitch and many worse things for doing a "man's" job in a man's world. I know she's seen as power-hungry. I know that people have discounted her and not listened to her because she is a woman. I know she has been judged for every move she made as First Lady. In some ways, I really respect her for some of the changes she tried to make happen (health care reform comes first to mind). And I do love the thought of having a woman leading our country. But, mostly she seems to be a politician concerned about being elected more than standing for values I hold most dear. I just don't feel as good about Hillary the individual as our president as I do about Barak.

Maybe I should read Hillary's book, "Living History" to hear her "voice" as well. (I just looked it up. It's 562 pages, which makes it much less likely that I will read it).

Maybe I'm naive to believe a book written by a politician. But he wrote the book more than a decade ago and talked about things that have the potential to really hurt him (his father being raised Muslim, Barak's drug use as a teenager, his mother's multiple marriages to foreign men). He writes openly about racism in our country, a subject which is almost taboo.

Ours is a country divided by the color of skin which those with the lightest skin and most power refuse to acknowledge. Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, the Williams sisters in tennis, Denzel Washington, and Tiger Woods. They prove that there is no excuse any more to whine about racism, right? Right.


I don't think having a president who is American and African will solve the deep wounds of racism in our country but I think it would certainly be a step. I think having Barak as president would force us to have to discuss the rampaging elephant in the room.

I have to admit that I would worry for his safely more than Hillary or another person filling the position.

And I'm aware that John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel all represent my concerns better than Barak and Hillary. I just don't think that they have a chance to win. Whoever wins the presidency will have a huge job fixing the wrongs of our country. I'm realistic enough to know that at least half the people are ready for change and for history to be made and a white guy just isn't going to do that for us (which, I realize, is it's own kind of bias). I'm not saying that I am committed to supporting Barak Obama; I still need to learn more about him to make that decision. I do like what I've learned, so far.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Growing in Light

In reading over my last couple of posts, I see the word "I" a bunch: "I'm doing this," "I've been asked to do that..." Used to woulda been that I'd be getting all big-headed puffed up with activity, feeling self-important because I'm so busy and connected. I've begun moving beyond my ego being so immediately affected by my busy-ness. The title for yesterday's post actually is how I'm feeling; more like a servant of God and my spiritual community. At this moment, I feel I'm moving beyond ego gratification to allowing myself to be part of Christ's body on Earth. There's a wonderful sense of peace and rightness in where I am.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Opportunities to Serve

Penelope will be coming to town to lead our Nashville Monthly Meeting regional gathering in March. She is a graduate of "School of the Spirit" and will speak about her experiences in that spiritual community. She emailed me last week to say that she has heard such wonderful things about our spiritual formation group that she would like me to co-lead the gathering with the focus on spiritual formation. I replied that I don't really think I did much other than to throw an idea out that seemed to resonate with a number of other people but that I am happy to work with her, to learn with and from her.

I am so nurtured and supported by the large and my small spiritual formation groups. I feel like we've created a group of people who are coming to share a vocabulary for experiences of Spirit. I feel an intimacy with the 13 others so that when I make a statement or offer a suggestion about matters spiritual, I feel understood. I know I am not alone in my longing for more intimacy with others in our meeting and with God. Even when we are just talking, socializing, I feel a warmth and closeness that was not there before. And I think this intimacy is extending to the larger NFM community. Because 14 of us feel closer and more intimately connected with one another and truly known and supported, I think we have more to give to the larger community. We are deepening our awareness of Spirit for ourselves as individuals, as a group and for our meeting at large.

I'd been worrying about what I would do or say for the regional gathering but I trust that God will lead me to the resources I need to create an interesting and dynamic activity for everyone. I know I can bring this to those in my GIL group and they will support me and hold me in God's light. It's so great knowing I don't have to "front", that I can be vulnerable and imperfect and will be loved and nurtured.

Next week at meeting, our second hour will be about racism, lead by a woman from a New England Friends meeting. She will be talking about her experiences. I have been increasingly aware of the classism which seems almost inherent in Quakerism in general. I'd asked if I could lead a 2nd hour about class issues and am now scheduled for the following week, the first Sunday in February.

I think I want to begin by talking about what privilege is and how we have benefited from things beyond our control: The color of our skin, parental education, parental stability and financial security, etc. (at this point, I'd like to recommend the book "White Like Me: Reflections on Race by a Privileged Son" by Tim Wise). I'd like to talk about how welcoming we are to newcomers to our meeting. I think it would be interesting to hold up a series of pictures of "typical" Americans and ask everybody to, using their usual attitudes, put the people in the pictures in one of three categories: will feel comfortable at NFM, may feel comfortable or, will not fit in. I think I may send this article out via email prior to that Sunday so people will have the opportunity to read and reflect on how we may be perceived by newcomers (the article is not Quaker but it does express the inherent "weirdness" of many crunchy granola progressive types, which our liberal, unprogrammed, highly educated meeting certainly is).

Caroline and I will lead the large Growing in the Light meeting in March. We chose the topics for each month and opted to lead the topic of "Obedience". I'm not yet sure where we're heading but I'm thinking about a worship sharing about a time in which we were guided by spirit to do something and were obedient. I don't think discernment and obedience mean the same thing but I understand them to be connected when it comes to the will of God. "Not my will but thine" and "Trust and Obey" and "proceed as way opens" and "Live up to the Light thee has and more will be given thee". What is obedience? How do we know when we are being obedient? What happens when we do not obey? How are discernment and obedience related? These are all questions we could explore.

Spirit in business meeting

Yesterday was 3rd Sunday, which is Meeting for Worship for the Conduct of Business at Nashville Friends Meeting. For about the last year, we have combined our business meeting with meeting for worship. Attendance and attention to business has increased dramatically; more people are involved and aware of the decisions that have to be made to make our meeting run smoothly and I feel that we are more aware of Spirit being the foundation for any decision (sense of the meeting).

I stayed in the classroom of my youngest son for a little while, talking with the teacher and a young mother. When I walked into MfWftCoB, they were in the midst of "discussing" how well the combined format works for people. I put discussing in quotes because I don't believe it should be a discussion: I am coming to understand and believe that conduction business in meeting should be God-centered, although we don't seem to be very aware of that much of the time. I walked in with well defined beliefs about Spirit in our midst. I settled down, meaning to center for a moment, to gather my thoughts before speaking my piece but then was lead to still myself and sit in silent worship, holding those in attendance and the proceedings of the business meeting in the Light. I don't think I've ever been in a state in which I was so aware of, yet so detached from, what was going on around me. Even when my name was brought up in connection to an upcoming event, I didn't feel the need to respond or add anything. I staying in a state of worshipful awareness, thinking about how God (Spirit, the One) is always at the center of everything we do and are, although we aren't usually paying much attention.

After Meeting for Worship, I spoke with our recording clerk and another F/friend about the potential for growth in business meetings. Both of these women are part of Growing In the Light with me and whom I feel quite close to. We talked about the potential for MfWftCoB to be a true expression of Spirit in our midst. Another of the members of GIL avoids all business proceedings at our meeting because he feels frustrated by them and feels they are a waste of his time. I understand where he is coming from and why. I envision business meetings being a true expression of Spirit with the potential to actually nourish and nurture attenders.

I believe that business meeting has the potential to be, what is known in Quaker parlance, as gathered (which, to me, means all present are actively aware of Spirit unifying everyone and there is harmony and comfort with the elements of elation and joy). What I envision is for us to check our egos at the door and enter into meeting for WORSHIP for the conduct of business with the same sense of openness and waiting upon Spirit the we bring with us into our weekly Meetings for Worship and into our daily spiritual practices. I would like for us to have more silence between agenda items and more silence between comments. I'm as guilty as anyone of having to "put in my two cents" about topics about which I have any kind of opinion. I'm beginning to understand, though, that sitting in silent waiting for Spirit to lead me to speak is the only way to really allow the true Sense of the Meeting to prevail. I believe we could conduct a business meeting with very little talking except for the clerk and recording clerk and Spirit given messages from those in attendance.

I'm a talker, full of strong opinions. I'm not one to sit and wait for directions; I take charge and make things happen. I think the first step, for me, in all things Spirit related (which is everything in life) is to stop, settle and wait. I know that God "speaks" to me, guides me, leads me to where I need to be (sometimes, frustratingly, by a series of "doors" closing). I trust God to show me the way but I have to continuously be reminded to "shut up and listen". So often I'm making so much noise, so many plans and brilliant ideas, that I can't hear the "still, soft voice" showing me to the place I'm supposed to be. Yesterday, being directed to sit in silent waiting was a gift and a blessing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Meaning of Life

As I stayed in bed this morning, pretending that the sun wasn't up, I was thinking about my scooter and my ego and attention. I've written about wanting to wait to get a scooter until it wouldn't puff me all up and be an ego thing. I don't know if I've changed much since writing the previous post except to say that in writing about it, I became aware of the potential for egotrap. (As I've also written before: ego=sin and sin=anything that comes between me and my relationship with God)

My almost teen, Zed, has been going around asking "What's the meaning of life?" I think there's actually a punchline that follows the question (along the lines of 42 from "Hitchhikers Guide") but I've been too distracted whenever he's asked to pay attention to what follows.

As I hid under the covers, I thought about that question and my answer this morning is: To reflect God. I think about my scooter and myself and how I usually live as if I am the center of my life and how I want to live so that God's Light shines through me. My scooter is a symbol of my commitment to caring for God' creation, Earth, and I need to keep that foremost in my heart and head so my ego doesn't get caught up in the "coolness" factor.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

People who need People

Well, I've gone and done it...

Yup, I've got me a scooter. I have not allowed myself the WOO-HOO elation as yet because I still don't have a helmet or the
M(otorcycle) endorsement for my driver's license. As a matter of fact, my brand new Kymco People 150 has been sitting in my garage, completely out of gas since I purchased it a week ago. I've gotten insurance and yesterday, I finally registered it and got a license plate (2991ZT). The reason I don't yet have a helmet is that I have a really small head. I was not aware of my head size as being a problem until I tried to buy a helmet. The friendly man, James, at East Side Scooters had to order a large child's size helmet (color: Black)for my teeny little head. I also have a Corazzo motorcycle jacket on order in my size (color: Black) made out of Kevlar so I can be shot in the shoulder while riding to no more ill effect than a nasty bruise (the latest in safety for motorcycle riding is to line the points of impact in a crash with the same stuff used for bullet-proof vests used by police. My back and shoulders will be covered by the ultimate shoulder pads). I also have a huge top case on order for me to carry all my work-related gear around with me.

So, what does it look like? Taa-daa:

(yeah, I know I'm a total nerd)

The color is a nice mint green. I thought I'd be able to go pick up my helmet today but no such luck. I'm trying to maintain my cool about this delay but I may run out of cool soon and just go ride it around the yard with no helmet (bad example!!). I was going to take the motorcycle safety riding course as my means of getting licensed but it's apparently not going to be offered until sometime in March so I guess I'll have to go to the DMV and take the road test.

And how, you may ask, am I justifying this purchase? Well, I've got a new work project coming up next month (federal survey of commercial building energy consumption patterns). Because I'll be working with people at their businesses I'll be working mainly M-F 9-5. All my previous work projects have involved locating respondents in their homes so the hours have been generally evenings and weekends and Hammy and I could share the car. This time, I'd have to drive him to work every day or borrow my dad's truck. This scooter gets 84 miles to the gallon. My dad's truck gets around 23 and Hammy's car gets around 27. I get $.50 a mile in reimbursement and drive an average of 300 miles each week for the first 20 weeks of a new project. I've been hired to work this project and then a Science Foundation project in April (the two projects will overlap for 6-8 weeks so I'll be working 40 hours during that time). The scoot will quickly pay for itself over the next 6 months. The People 150 is gas powered but it is one of the cleanest burning bikes available. I will be having a much smaller impact on the environment riding than I would if I were driving.

I am happy to finally have a scooter but I also feel really good about how it will help me reduce my environmental "footprint". I've been perplexed about how to reduce the impact of how much I am required to drive for my job. Quitting wouldn't help because they would just hire someone else to do the job; someone who would not know the area as well and so would work less efficiently, thus would drive more. Driving a scooter is the best compromise I can come up with until Nashville improves it's bus system. And it's going to be so much fun!!!