Monday, September 24, 2007


I grew up where the Mississippi Delta meets the Ozark foothills, where summer was long, hot, still, hazy, and humid.

The first days of autumn always brought a promise of movement and clarity and relief: life began to speed up and the sluggishness of mind and body started to abate.

Autumn is when we loved each other; summer was surly.

By the same token, there was a sense of impending doom after the first few days of springtime: soon the white hot sun would shrivel up those lovely, but ephemeral, blossoms--we knew this. We aimed to s-l-o-w down, talk less, lounge more.

Then I moved to Minnesota, and the game changed. Just as I started to wind up for the relief of autumn, others set their jaws and braced themselves for the first freeze and the one after that, freeze after freeze, endlessly lining up to play Winter. And in the springtime, when everyone else was giddy, my body's rhythm would tell me to throttle back.

Now I'm in Seattle, and I have no embodied sense of what is about to happen. The beginning of autumn is a tabula rasa, and I find it unsettling. Am I supposed to be girding my loins? Throwing caution to the wind? Revving? Idling?

I've bought a hooded raincoat, just in case, and have laid in a supply of coffee.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Robert's Rules

I was facilitating a meeting today at my new job, and someone suggested that we dispense with Robert's Rules of Order. Too formal, they said. All that "move" and "second" and "point of order" and "call the question" stuff.

And I countered with "well, WHICH Robert? Sure, we could use the old standard, but why? Why not come up with rules of order to structure conversation or shut people up based on OTHER Roberts?"

Robert Duvall's Rules of Order: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."
Robert DeNiro's Rules of Order: "You talkin' to me???"
Robert Redford's Rules of Order: "Naturally blabby, I guess."

Ummmm, yeah. They didn't buy it. Not only that, there was an awkward silence as they all turned to me, in slow motion, no blinking, just blank puzzlement.