Archive for the ‘My Rules’ Category

Photo by Jenni Jones on Unsplash

I remember an episode of NCIS where the character Abby Sciuto (played by the very talented Pauley Perrette) said something to the effect of “I used to be an anarchist, but I quit. Too many rules.”

Too many rules. Ay, there’s the rub! Whether it’s anarchy, religion, writing, society, or even life itself, we’re hemmed in by rules. Grammar, ritual, whatever: rules are everywhere.

It makes me want to scream sometimes.

But then I remember the Number One Rule as taught by a former English professor: “You have to know the rules in order to break them deliberately.”

Or as Bob Dylan so elegantly put it, “To live outside the law, ya gotta be honest.”

That great master of the English language, Winston Churchill, was once taken to task during an interview for having ended a sentence with a preposition. He glared at the young reporter and replied, “That, sir, is arrant nonsense, up with which I will not put.”

Here on Medium, you can find countless examples of rules for writing which, given that this is primarily a site for writers, makes sense. I know; I’ve read many of them. Some of them even make sense. Actually, they all make sense, if you look at them from the point of the various authors who wrote them. They make sense to that person for a very simple reason: they work for her.

And ultimately, isn’t that why we have rules in the first place? Because they work? But here’s the thing: my rules work for me. Do I have the right, then, to force them onto anyone else? I don’t know you. We’ve never met and probably never will. So who am I to say my rules will work for you?

Rules vs. Laws

Here’s where things get sticky. One of my rules is that I don’t have a uterus, so I have no say in what any other woman does with hers. It’s none of my business. Therefore, I am pro-choice. Notice I said pro-choice, and not pro-abortion. There’s a huge difference. I don’t favor abortion, but as I said, it’s not my body.

But.

There are also people who don’t believe a woman has the right to choose what she can and can’t do with her own body, and they make laws about it.

I deliberately chose abortion as an example precisely because it’s such a hot-button issue. Alabama’s governor just signed a new law which is the most restrictive in the nation. Even such a right-wing religious fanatic as Pat Robertson says it goes too far.

Found on Facebook

I seem to remember an old document from my distant hazy high school history class. I said something to the effect that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It goes on to say “[t]hat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”

It seems to me — and I can’t be the only one — that our current form of government has indeed become destructive of these ends, especially the pursuit of happiness.

I have no answers.

For Further Reading:

The Declaration of Independence

The Constitution of the United States

The Declaration of the Rights of Man

The Age of Reason

The American Crisis

tea quote

For me, there’s no worse way to start my day than coming downstairs and finding the kitchen full of people who all want to talk to me. Out-of-town visitors. Local friends. Complete strangers to me. My roommate knows better.

I’m not a “morning person.” It usually takes means a good 30 minutes to wake up enough to even begin to be sociable.

And a crucial part of my morning routine involves a tea ritual: I empty the tea kettle, fill it with fresh cold water, and put it on the stove to boil. While it heats up, I carefully measure out 2 teaspoons of my choice for the day: either a strong black Assam tea or a spiced version of the same blend. I always use whole-leaf tea.

I add the tea to the pot and wait for the kettle to boil. While waiting, I look out the kitchen window to see how the garden is doing. This week, the lilies are in bloom. In the evening, as the temperature falls, their aroma wafting through the house can be intoxicating.

Finally, the kettle comes to a boil. I pour the water over the tea leaves, set the timer, and wait patiently for the water to work its magic on the leaves.

This morning it’s Cardamom Spiced Assam. It’s a lovely blend from India. In fact, it evokes such memories of other times, other places, that I can almost hear Ravi Shankar performing a morning raga is the leaves steep.

Finally, the tea is ready. It’s a deep brown liqueur, hinting at hidden delights. I pour my cup and add a bit of sweetener and a splash of milk. I still haven’t managed to replicate the tea served by my favorite Indian restaurant, but it’s close. It, too, is intoxicating.

“In Ireland, you go to someone’s house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you’re really just fine. She asks if you’re sure. You say of course you’re sure, really, you don’t need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don’t need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn’t mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it’s no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting.

In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea.

I liked the Irish way better.” ― C.E. Murphy, Urban Shaman

I close my eyes, raise the cup to my lips, and let the first sip perform its magic.

Now  I am awake. Now I am human. Now  you may speak.