Starting Sideways

The spiraling ceilings of the Ayasofya in Istanbul model the sense of akilter from the start of this year.

The spiraling ceilings of the Ayasofya in Istanbul model the sense of akilter from the start of this year.

My mom called it being akilter or she would say, “Things are all akimbo”, but she meant akilter or off balance or out of alignment. She was funny in that way, using words that were almost right, but sometimes not quite.

That’s how I feel about the start of this year of 2015. Things are off balance or not quite aligned. And I’m trying to figure out how best to get back on track.

It looked like it would start well. We had a series of friends visiting us in California with good weather albeit a bit cold. But what’s a little cold to a bunch of former and current Minnesotans? There were good meals planned, interesting albeit odd films to watch -seriously, The Interview was only good as a protest action – and we toured some new wineries near Santa Barbara.

And then the New Year began. And everything sped up. Even the Rose Parade seemed to race so quickly along its path on Colorado Boulevard that I missed waving to actor Jack Black on the float honoring his and all music teachers.

We did have a great time celebrating becoming parents 29 years ago, better known to my first born as her birthday. We had a superb, albeit too generous, meal at a top spot in LA and loved watching the chefs at work. And that was great – but…

The week following that – the one week in these past few months with no post – knocked me sideways.

It began with the news that a young former colleague had lost her battle with cucking fancer, er, cancer. Jenna Langer Vancura lived a heroic life outwitting cancer for nearly half of her too-few years.  Several months ago, she made the decision to stop with the treatments that promised little other than time away from her dear family and friends. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that her body then said, “Enough.” But it was.

The news made my heart hurt in the way that’s only possible when the unfairness of life slaps you in the chest. But Jenna’s joie de vivre is still present, reminding me to live with a smile and attitude.

About the time I had come to terms with the news of Jenna’s death, I was transfixed with images pouring out of Paris. What the…well, I don’t need to comment on the insanity of that wasteful attack. How violent murder honors anyone’s prophet is outside the realm of my understanding.

I am so imbued by our core values in this country that I will fight for the right of people to argue a position that is the opposite of mine. I will fight for the right of people to worship with prayers, chants, or dance, in mosques, synagogues, churches, or temples. But none of that fighting for the core values of free speech or practice of religion will ever involve the use of weapons beyond words, organizing, or voting.

I wanted to start 2015 by making plans, executing strategies, and measuring progress. Instead I start the year sick at heart at the loss of a single life and transfixed in horror at the murder of so many more by madmen. It’s not how I thought things would begin – and yet here we are – beginning a year sideways, akilter, or as Mom would have said, akimbo.