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Second Platoon

Early this morning, the platoon of gun-metal soldiers at the Korean War Memorial doubled in size. Not gray, these soldiers. But white and brown men, women and boys and girls, dressed in colors of the rainbow -- green shorts, pink t-shirts, white tank tops. Moving in and around the gray beings frozen in time, this second platoon dipped and whirled with long-handled cleaning brushes instead of rifles with bayonets. The liquid running down the faces, backs, cloaks and boots of the soldiers was not blood, but soapy water. The volunteers, commanded by two National Park Service rangers, scrub the soldiers and the black marble strips they stand on. Quiet. Working. The Korean soldiers, talking into their walkies or mouths open and shouting to the man ahead, are so much louder.

More things I see on a morning walk on the Mall. Boxes of covered barricaded fireworks lining the reflecting pool. Two young snow-white retrievers -- what are they called? "snowden retrievers?" -- jog past with their owners, tongues lolling. Brown eyes laughing. A man jogs past and I smell cologne flying behind him. Near the monument, a bready-pool of old vomit on the grass by the sidewalk. The DC Memorial to WWI, clean and white and quiet in its grove.


The Importance of Being "I"

So here's a pet peeve that has incredibly positive implications if it can be turned around.

All it takes is changing one word.

When I tell someone about an experience or a story or I answer a question, I'm committed to saying "I."

Not "you." As in, "You know how, when .... " or "You know, when you ...".

For example, "I tune out when I hear about orphanages because it's too painful." Or, "I know that when I answer the phone a certain way I can affect whether someone wants to talk with me." Or, "I always want to do this little exercise before sitting down to write."

Here's what I didn't say.

"You tune out when you hear about orphanages because it's too painful." " Or, "You know how, when you answer the phone a certain way, you can affect whether someone wants to talk with you?" Or, "You always want to do this little exercise before sitting down to write."

The speaker uses "you" even though he/she is talking about something personal.

This happens in conversation all the time.

When I hear someone speak in the third person about something they experienced or something they espouse or something they believe, I immediately tune out. I feel distanced from the speaker. Why? Because it's not *my* experience. It's *their* experience. The story does not feel authentic because the teller is not owning it. Saying "you" isn't inclusive. It's actually distancing and distracting.

Every guest on every talk show should approach their interviews by committing to using the first person "I." It's important to your message. What you say will have a more authentic impact on the audience.

And every talk show host should insist that her/his guests use the first person when responding to questions. (Ellen, are you listening?) I don't understand why no one has insisted on this before.

Being "I" is so important. Being "I" is welcoming and intriguing.

Next time you listen to a guest on a talk show, replace the word "you" with "I" and feel what a difference changing one word -- changing a point of view -- alters how you feel about what the guest is saying.



Time Travel

Such an odd sensation driving in to downtown DC Tuesday morning. Was a drizzly, gray and foggy day. Creeping north on 395 on one of the worst traffic days of the year. I had a lot of time to look around. Approaching the Potomac River with DC on the other side the clouds are low. Everything is white. White steam exhaust billows up from buildings on the other side of the river near the Kennedy Center. Everything is like a sepia picture. All I can see is the Washington Monument swathed in scaffolding. Glimpses of the National Cathedral up to the west on the hill show a stunted center tower swathed in scaffolding.

For more than an instant I feel like it's the late 1800s. This must have been what DC looked like when everything was being built. Any vision of modern-day cranes was blocked by low-hanging clouds. It was a stereoscopic moment. Plus we were traveling at under horse-and-buggy speeds.

With H.G. Wells riding shotgun.


She Sticks Her Landing


Ruby Rocks

I have a new computer and her name is Ruby. This is because the front casing of the tower is a deep red. A ruby red.

It's a little bit of technological vanity.

So call me vain.

She runs fast and she runs sweet.