Pandemic problems

Oh, Change, what a cruel taskmaster you are!

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax fielded a question today from a reader feeling anxiety about returning to life as it was.

This COVID-19 pandemic is the gift that keeps on giving. First, we’re anxious about the world shutting down. Now we’re anxious about the world opening back up.

Change is hard. As usual, Carolyn Hax offered a nuanced answer. One of her suggestions was that “this year may have taught you a way to live that suits you better, and if so, that’s great. Preserve as much of that as you can.”

That thought reminded me of the year I resolved to eschew retail shopping. For a whole year about a decade ago, I stayed out of all retail stores except supermarkets, drugstores and pet supply warehouses. I avoided bricks-and-mortar retail outlets and purchased as much as I could online; in caveman terms, I was hunting and killing rather than wandering and gathering.

I proved my theory that the more I shopped, the more I wanted (and therefore, bought). Except for trying on shoes and browsing bookstores, I discovered I didn’t miss in-person shopping all that much. When the year was over, I went shopping a lot less often and I was therefore less tempted to buy things I didn’t need. I learned a way to live that suited me better, and I preserved it.

This year, I even knocked back grocery shopping. With online ordering and curbside delivery, I managed to stay out of even supermarkets.

Back to the anxious reader. Her missive got me thinking about my pandemic experience. I’m firmly on the side of longing for “back to normal” though for me, “normal” means working from home and actively avoiding stranger’s hugs, so not much changed there. Still, I long to enjoy a church service or a baseball game or a musical performance in a crowd of like-minded fans. I really hate how my mask fogs up my glasses, and I’m sick of take-out and socially distanced restaurants. In those arenas, I could use some normal.

Still, the world has changed and “back” to normal may never come. People died, vaccines have become the stuff of social currency and never again will we be able to say, “oh, society couldn’t possibly shut down in a day.” Oh, yes, it could.

When change is hard, I remind myself change is constant.

This honeycombed hunk of limestone was created by thousands (millions?) of years of water dripping on it. Is this change wrought by simply water and time beautiful or hideous? It’s all in your perspective.

Though a bit dark,The Guest List has readers turning pages

Coincidentally, I’ve read two books in a row about destination weddings involving social media influencers. Extravagance and mayhem ensued.

Makes my wedding to my Beloved to which twenty guests were invited to my home and we served a Dairy Queen cake look cute and basic.

But at least no one died!

The same can’t be said about hoity-toity affair created by Lucy Foley in The Guest List: You’d Kill to Be On It.

This absorbing mystery novel is about the wedding of magazine publisher Jules Keegan and reality TV star Will Slater on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. Foley tells most of the story through the wedding-weekend experiences of five characters: the bride, the plus-one, the best man, the wedding planner and the bridesmaid. One of these characters is the murderer (I’m not spoiling anything here—the back cover reveals this).

What’s interesting about the mystery is we don’t know who the murder victim is until the end of the book. These two entwined mysteries—who is murdered and who is the murderer—will keep you turning pages, maybe until late into the night. And that’s all you can ask from a good mystery novel.

The book gets better after a lot of vague talk about secrets in the beginning. At first, I didn’t like a couple of the main characters, but their irritating behavior is explained as the book progresses, and I found the ending to be surprising and satisfying. Foley does a good job of moving the story along and tying the various storylines together, though she leaves a few plot holes and minor loose ends if you look too closely. Still, the plot holds water, and it’s fiction, so I didn’t get too worked up about it.

I read this for our family bookclub, which includes my aunt, uncle and cousins. The consensus was that Foley created good characters, but the story on the whole was a bit dark.

The Guest List reminded me a little of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Both Foley and Flynn worked out a lot of plot complexities before weaving things together, and I appreciate thinkers like that.

If you’re planning or invited to an exclusive destination wedding this summer, I recommend choosing something else to read on the plane (like a romance novel maybe).

Travel Tuesday: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Springtime in central Texas means bluebonnets in bloom literally everywhere. Not simply gardens or boulevards but ditches and cracks in the sidewalks, too.

The bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas. Back in the ’70s, Lady Bird Johnson encouraged the planting of native plants along Texas highways in a highway beautification effort. Like cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., or tulips in southern Wisconsin, bluebonnet blooms are a common sight in the springtime.

Though they can be seen everywhere, one of the best places to take in bluebonnets is at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center just south of Austin, Texas. My Beloved and I enjoyed an outing with my parents there two weeks ago.

My Beloved and I, in a field of flowers.

In a pandemic, the center is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and some natural beauty. Displays, gardens, playgrounds, water features, walking paths and picnic areas fill the center’s nearly 300 acres. There’s a well-stocked gift shop, too. We spent nearly two hours there and could have lingered longer.

Dad and I in a full-color pose.

Photo opportunities abound. Because entrance is limited, it’s easy to get pictures without a bunch of strangers in the background.

The center offers miles of walking paths.

Bluebonnet is a name given to any number of purple-flowered species of the genus Lupinus predominantly found in the southwestern United States. The name is derived from the shape of the petals on the flower resembling a pioneer woman’s bonnet. My father, who has planted an active wildflower garden in his yard in central Minnesota, said the Texas flowers looked like smaller versions of lupine flowers.

The center was founded in 1982 when founders Lady Bird Johnson, a former first lady, and actress Helen Hayes established the National Wildflower Research Center. The University of Texas at Austin uses native plants to restore and create sustainable, beautiful landscapes. Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush flowers were in bloom when we were there. I imagine other varieties of wildflowers are in bloom throughout the season.

Lovebirds can be observed, too.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is at 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin. In the COVID-19 era, reservations are required in order to limit attendance and prevent crowds. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 65+, $10 for military and $6 for youth ages 5-17.

Big Summer tries to please all the people all the time but flounders

As a beach read, Jennifer Weiner’s Big Summer is all that. An entertaining and oftentimes insightful distraction filled with interesting characters leading interesting and sometimes strange lives.

Weiner is a skilled storyteller, and even if the literary world relegates her to chick-lit, she’s good at getting inside a chick’s head and showing you how she feels. But alas, Big Summer feels like it was written by committee. Even the title and upscale cover feels designed to get readers to tuck the book inside a beach bag. It’s not about a big summer. It’s about a “big” girl and a long June weekend.

Are all of Weiner’s protagonists fat? I don’t know. I’ve read only two pieces of Weiner’s fiction, her first book Good in Bed and Big Summer, her most recent (her newest novel, That Summer, comes out in May).

Of Good in Bed, I wrote, “Her memoir [Hungry Heart] led me to read that first novel, Good in Bed. Though a fictional story, the main character, Cannie, is a plus-sized newspaper reporter with a small dog and a messy breakup, all characteristics shared by Weiner at that time in her life. It is fascinating how she modeled the character on herself, and then created a wholly fictional, fresh ending. I found the plot twists to be surprising yet plausible.”

Big Summer’s plot twists are still surprising (wow!) but not plausible. The book begins as one thing, the story of a plus-sized Instagram influencer looking for love, and jolts abruptly into another thing. I don’t want to ruin your experience with spoilers; I’ll only say the book introduces a plot twist which might shelve it in another section of the bookstore.

I can’t say I didn’t like the plot twist. I did! It kept me reading so it was compelling. But the ending is a little too, um, unbelievable.

That didn’t ruin the book for me, but overall, I felt like there was too much effort to please all the people all the time. The high stakes and the “fully realized characters of all races and ethnicities” (Weiner’s words, from the acknowledgments) do not feel organic. Good in Bed was written to please Weiner alone, and it shows. She had a unique point of view in her debut, and she showcased it. Big Summer felt more like she had a deadline, a page count and a compulsion to sell books. I get it! What author doesn’t want to sell books? If you’re getting published, sales mean people care about what you’re saying. But it just felt like she cared more about selling books than she cared about her story, at least at the end of it.

‘Piece of mind’ from an airport security officer does nothing to create peace of mind

When the opportunity to see “the craziest things seen and done by the TSA” was offered me, I jumped at it.

I ran across You Can’t Fly With That: Confessions of a Disgruntling Airport Security Officer on Freebooksy, and I downloaded immediately. (Not a subscriber to Freebooksy? You should be. The website broadcasts free books daily.)

Many (but not all) of Freebooksy’s offerings are self-published, and sometimes it shows in the works with scant editing and typos. This is true of You Can’t Fly With That, too, but I can’t say it interfered with my enjoyment of the book. At first glance, you might think the title has a typo. Doesn’t the author mean “disgruntled” instead of “disgruntling”? Maybe; he certainly is as much a fan of the TSA as I am. But he also makes a case for being a pain in the tush for passengers and his supervisors, so maybe he does mean he’s “disgruntling,” that is, to make ill-humored or discontented. He’s admits to enough goofing off and lying about his absences that he writes under the pseudonym of “Anonymous”; Big Brother is watching, you know.

The Transportation Security Administration is a waste of taxpayer money, as I opined here on number occasions (here, here and here). I maintain the TSA is all flash and no substance, a government program designed to help scared little housewives and infrequent air travelers sleep better at night. It’s a ridiculous and expensive show paid for by taxpayer money in airports across the country every day that does nothing whatsoever to prevent someone who is willing to die for his cause to blow up a plane. 

My evidence, other than being a frequent flyer for several years in the mid 2000s? I was once considered such a security risk, I shut down an airport once. Yup, dangerous little anarchistic me. Shortly after 9/11, the crack TSA team at the tiny Central Minnesota airport where I was attempting to board a—gasp!—international flight detected a “bomb-making substance” on my laptop. The bright bulbs at the airport let me—the presumed bomb maker—board the plane, and the plane jetted off. They then shut down the airport and called in the bomb squad only find my keyboard had been smeared with—gasp!—glycerin-based hand lotion.

Reading You Can’t Fly With That does nothing to disavow me of my, ahem, high esteem for the TSA. Anonymous Author has penned a vulgar screed describing all kinds of hijinks of passengers, co-workers and himself. Here are a few lines from Anonymous Author’s work as evidence:

  • “The countdown to my freedom has begun you pecker-heads,” I manically spat through evil laughter while hovering over my dejected phone elves. “Soon, I’ll be kicking terrorist in the dicks and buying discounted airport merchandise. Enjoy unscrewing phones, suckas.”
  • For the next thirty minutes, we stood at the metal detector chatting and sending geologically-tarded passengers back to remove metal. … I mean delayed, or slow, retarded as, so yes, it’s okay.

At least Anonymous Author is self-deprecating: “I am, I repeat, I am, a jackass. Just one who’s actually a nice guy. A lot of my jackassery is used for public service.”

This work not literary brilliance by any means and there is no discernable plot other than a number of loosely connected anecdotes of stupidity, but I kept reading because Anonymous is occasionally clever:

  • [I am a] Screening Officer; or, unofficially, ‘Taker of Water from the Elderly’
  • I wouldn’t hack it as one of Ashton’s less famous lackeys on ‘Punked’, I’d crack mid-prank and ruin it all, similar to what Ashton’s done with his career choices.
  • Like women at an abortion clinic, I wasn’t having it.

Just in case Anonymous Author haunts Minnesota Transplant, I will refrain from using “bomb” in association with his book since I would like to pass through security next time I’m at the airport without a gloved-hand screening. Like at the airport, proceed at your own risk.

Though the cacti may wilt

The lonely hummingbird feeder in the midst of the storm.

The mountains and hills may crumble,
but my love for you will never end;
I will keep forever my promise of peace,
So says the Lord who loves you.

~Isaiah 54:10 (GNT)

Evidence of the winter freeze last month in Texas still is apparent.

Our hummingbirds are gone.

Before the freeze, more than one dainty bird drank his fill from our hummingbird feeder hanging off the deck.

No birds came for a sip of sweet nectar for three weeks after the freeze. One hearty bird arrived Sunday; I suspect he was migrating north, and we were only a rest stop.

Pieces of this tree blocked the walking path for a while.

The trees in the cedar forest in which we live suffered lost limbs, broken by the weight of the ice, many of which still hang limply from their bodies. There simply hasn’t been enough time for the housing development’s maintenance workers to prune them all.

The palm trees, planted on fancy estates around Lake Travis, are definitely dead, and cacti all over may not be dead but they are much worse for wear.

Century plants appeared ready to reach out and grab passersby before the freeze.

I believe this is a Century plant, agave americana, a unique succulent plant native to Mexico. They received the name Century plant because it was believed that they flowered every hundred years. In fact, most plants bloom in 20 to 30 years.

Century plant cacti are used like shrubbery around here. Before the freeze, they reminded me of Audrey II, the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.

The Century plants after the freeze.

Now look at them. Theoretically, one can trim the dead leaves, but I think a lot of them are goners. They may never get their chance to bloom.

Elsewhere in the aftermath, I read news stories about the untenable state of Texas’ power grid, I hear news of armadillo infestations (only in Texas), and I see Facebook posts with smiling women wrapped in towels, grateful recipients of finally operational showers.

For most of us, life in Texas is back to normal. Temperatures now in March reach into the seventies and sometimes eighties, and it’s warm enough at dawn that I can do yoga on the deck.

But it was dicey there for a week in February.

It never got below zero in the Austin area.

A hearty Minnesota might scoff. If you’re from Minnesota, it’s not even winter until it gets below zero. Twenty above is practically spring like.

But 20 degrees with snow for a week in Austin is cataclysmic.

Homes are not built to retain heat. Pipes are not insulated for prolonged cold. Road crews do not invest in tons of salt they may never use. Drivers who have never experienced icy or snow-covered roads don’t know how to drive in it.

My Beloved and I holed up in our condo for that week. Fortunately, we had an abundance of groceries, and my quick-thinking husband had the presence of mind to fill the bathtub when we still had running water.

We endured intermittent power outages for four days and no running water for six. Wearing two spring jackets and socks for mittens, I ventured out to check the mail once only to discover that snow and gloom of night was preventing these couriers from their appointed rounds, too.

I flinched every time the power went out, worrying about whether the coffee maker had finished its work, and my greasy, unwashed hair was horrifying. The dirty dishes in the sink haunted me a little, but I reminded myself I was a tough Minnesota native. Who needs first-world luxuries?! I was proud of how I was surviving a Texas winter storm disaster!

But as I was vacuuming the morning we hoped to get water—doing whatever cleaning I could in anticipation of getting water to do more cleaning—I started weeping when I took a break to look at memes on Facebook and listen to Fun’s “Some Nights.”

Why would a 2012 pop song make me cry?

Well, “Some Nights” is about existential angst, so there’s that, but it was a matter of timing, not import. When I heard the song, I felt like I was on a ledge with nothing to hold on to. I was stressed out—about simple things, I fully admit, like laundry and no TV—and I had been denying my stress for days. “I’m tough, I’m OK, it could be worse.”

The tears were cathartic.

A few hours later, my Beloved and I had a big, stupid fight about who would shower first. Not that we each wanted to go first, but we fought to let the other one go first. How dumb. For me, the yelling was, again, further evidence that we hadn’t been processing what we were feeling.

Disaster requires coping. Denial is a powerful coping mechanism, and it’s the go-to tool in my self-protection toolbox.

Unfortunately for the hummingbirds and cedar trees and cacti, denying the truth of the cold weather didn’t save them.

Though the mountains may crumble (and my greasy hair may hang limp), a greater presence remained through it all offering gifts of peace and love.

And I was reminded, sometimes I am the mountain.

Mexican Gothic satisfies even as it creeps out readers

Mystery. Check!

Creepy mansion. Check!

Cemetery. Death. Violence. Check, check, check!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia has all the classic elements of a gothic novel. Set in 1950s Mexico, the inhospitable house in the countryside not far from a defunct silver mine is like another character, one indispensable from the horrifying plot.

I am probably not a good reader to review a gothic novel having never read one (no, not even Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) but maybe the perspective of a novice might help others decide whether to try something different.

Our heroine is, refreshingly, female: Noemi Taboada, a debutante who enjoys a life of cocktail parties and flirting with suitors. Her cousin sends a cryptic letter that alarms her family and Noemi is dispatched to determine if her cousin is sick, crazy or just fine.

Of course, the cousin is not just fine, or there’d be no story. But is she sick? Crazy? Or something else? Noemi arrives at a decrepit house with a strange assortment of residents, including an aging and possibly racist patriarch and a quiet but oddly compelling young man.

Noemi is brash. She smokes when she’s asked not to. She drives into town without permission and pokes around for information. She defies the conventions of the house. In a slow burn sort of way, Noemi uncovers troubling truths about the gloomy house and its residents. By the half-way point in the book, you’ll be compelled to keep reading even as Moreno-Garcia amps up the terror. You will want to get to the bottom of things as much as Noemi does. Moreno-Garcia introduces a lot of elements that appear at first to be red herrings, but she answers questions and wraps up the mystery and the plot in a satisfying way. You might even believe in haunted houses when you get to the end.

Though set in Mexico, the book has more Latin than Spanish. It’s entirely understandable to someone whose Mexican exposure amounts to a few days on a Gulf of Mexico beach. If you like Stephen King, you’ll like this book.

Big book of advice makes great good nights

After I glance at the front page of the newspaper every morning, I turn to the advice columns.

(My newspaper nowadays is electronic, and I read it on my iPad. I feel strongly I get the least biased news reports from newspaper; it’s still biased, but less so. If you’re getting all your news on Facebook or 24-hour news networks, please reconsider your sources.)

Beyond the news, I’m addicted to Ask Amy and Carolyn Hax and Dear Abby. But the woman who started it all (or, at least, made it famous) was Ann Landers, otherwise known as Esther Pauline “Eppie” Lederer (she took over the “Ask Ann Landers” column in 1955 a few months before her sister began offering advice under the pen name Abigail Van Buren).

It’s the letters that are so fascinating (though I like comparing my own advice to the column authors’). Truth is stranger than fiction, and people are weird. I suppose the true confession is that the columns made me feel morally superior. “At least I’m not that stupid or crazy.”

In an effort to escape violent television shows and the bombastic talking heads on 24-hour news networks at the end of the day, I recently picked up Ann Landers’ Wake Up and Smell the Coffee! Advice, Wisdom, and Uncommon Good Sense, a whole book of advice columns! It was published in 1996 and a little bit quaint but still compelling. I read a chapter or so of letters and answers before drifting off to sleep, and it was mindlessly satisfying.

Since I love true stories anyway, this was a good way to enjoy true stories without getting wrapped up in a memoir about sorrow, sickness or psychos. The advice guru covers relationships, sex, work, aging, disease and death, all with wit, insight and humor. Ann Landers was a gem, and her book will remind you of it (or introduce you, if you’re a younger type of reader).

Sweet dreams.

Perhaps observation rather than decadence on Fat Tuesday

In observance of Ash Wednesday tomorrow, I offer a little piece that is different from the philosophy of Fat Tuesday, during which we Christians indulge in every sort of craven desire before we sacrifice for Lent. Instead, in the midst of a brutal blast of winter and a worldwide pandemic, maybe a little Buddhist embrace of our joy and suffering is in order.

I wrote the following piece two years ago. The man mentioned in this piece recovered enough to live many more months, but last year, he went to heaven, a victim of COVID-19 here on earth.

Bearing witness

Is this heaven

If you think meditation requires sitting cross-legged and chanting “Om,” you might be surprised to learn that’s only one way to practice meditation. Dozens of contemplative practices exist including everything from sitting in silence to dance and many acts in between. One of them is bearing witness, defined by Jules Shuzen Harris as “acknowledging that something exists or is true.” He suggests the Buddhist perspective of bearing witness “is to embrace both the joy and the suffering we encounter.”

For the past six months or so, I have been participating in a meditation practice with a small group of women at a nearby church. Last month, we met in my church (that is, my house, which used to be a church). After we rang the church bell, we meditated to the sound of bells. It was lovely.

But today I’m thinking of bearing witness as a meditation because I did so earlier this week when I spent a few minutes in silence holding a dying man’s hand. Without getting into the sticky HIPAA details of who this man is and whether or not he is actually dying, let’s just stipulate we all are dying. But we’re not all breathing with a ventilator in the critical care unit of a hospital. This man was. If you’re a more hopeful sort, you might argue this man was recovering, not dying. To-may-to, to-mah-to. Unless you’re a baby, we’re all in some state of disintegration.

This experience has clung to my consciousness like Pig-pen’s dust cloud, not in a haunting way but in a solemn, reverential way; it seems appropriate with the observance tomorrow of Ash Wednesday, which I associate with one’s path to death and resurrection. “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. For dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.”

In between the hullabaloo of a number of visitors checking on this man’s well-being and the nurse washing his face and pressing various buttons on his monitors and intravenous drips, I was left alone in the room with him for about 20 minutes. Cell phones were not allowed in the ward. Food wasn’t permitted. There wasn’t a TV in the room. Only the man, carefully arranged in a hospital bed, and an array of machinery. Instead of seeking a distraction, I paid attention to the moment.

I took the man’s hand and was surprised to find it warmer than my own. I held it gently because he was so frail.

I considered singing a lullaby, but he is hearing impaired and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be heard by anyone else or that I could remember whole verses. So I sat in silence listening to the ventilator do its work.

Air in. Breath out. Air in. Breath out. Air in. Breath out.

Every breath is a miracle if you think about it, but it was even more special in this setting. This is exactly what one might do to center one’s mind during meditation, only one would be concentrating on one’s own breath instead of someone else’s.

Air in. Breath out. Air in. Breath out. Air in. Breath out.

Though mostly unconscious, it was clear this man was suffering. Occasionally, he would open his mouth and grimace. But he would also sometimes turn his head and smile. There was small but real joy in these fleeting moments. He was warm. He was breathing. He was alive. Life, being a gift, should be celebrated even in the midst of pain, I believe. Sitting there with him, this is what I bore witness to.

Air in. Breath out. Air in. Breath out. Air in. Breath out.

I did not consider the future. I have the luxury of being emotionally separated enough from the man that his state did not disturb or worry me. I was in no position to help the situation or control it or even speak words of comfort (he couldn’t hear me anyway and with a tracheotomy, he couldn’t speak either so conversation was not an option). I could just be. Holding his hand. And bearing witness. See him in the moment instead his past mistakes or all the machines in the present or what the future might hold.

According to Harris, bearing witness has psychological and spiritual benefits for the bearer: “It enables us to connect with a place of real empathy. It also provides a kind of catharsis, a release from our emotional reactions of pity, shame, or fear. Spiritually, bearing witness invokes a sense of interconnectedness, of oneness, a direct realization of the wholeness of life.”

I felt these benefits while sitting with this man. For a few minutes, I let go of my shame and pity, and in bearing witness to his joy and suffering, I felt fortunate. My private moments in that room were a blessing to him, I hope, and to me. It’s not every day one observes so intimately the process of living and dying.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it

An enterprising rock sculptor is at work on the walking paths around my Texas residence.

I described this interesting two-foot-tall rock formation to my mother, and she explained, “That’s an inuksuk!”

Well, you learn something new every day.

And then my dad chimed in, and he said, “It’s a cairn.”

Why, yes, it’s that, too.

An inuksuk is a manmade stone landmark, or cairn, for use by the Inuit and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America. A cairn is a man-made pile or stack of stones; the word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic.

Inuksuit (plural for inuksuk) and cairns are often used to mark boundaries or paths.

The creator here in my housing development is not some kid playing with rocks. Well, he might be a kid, but he understands the meaning behind the formations because they are built in forks in the road, as if to draw attention to the traveler’s choice.

When I brought my Beloved down the path on another day, I found another, smaller inuksuk near the first one I found.

On another path, I found an enormous formation built on a stone wall, at sort of a T in the path.

I rarely meet anyone on these paths. It’s odd to think someone took a few minutes or more to find and balance the rocks, and yet I see them only in my own isolation. It is a strange but special communion.

These works of art or navigation are a bit ephemeral. A few days after I brought my Beloved down the first path, the smaller inuksuk was just a pile of rubble. All evidence of its existence was gone (except my photo).

Speaking of ephemeral, how about a beautiful sunrise. I snapped this picture off my deck. If I were a better photographer, I would have a picture of the sunrise behind an inuksuk (alas, I am not that photographer). Given the deep freeze most of America is experiencing (even here, in Texas!), I think a warm picture of the sun might be the balm we all need.

“Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against, we are in harmony with reality.”

~ Pema Chodron, American Tibetan Buddhist